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“Going Away to College”

Declan was never not going to go to college.

Raven was. Not going to go, that is. It was something that hadn’t even occurred to her as an option. She didn’t think she had it in her, didn’t think it was worth it, didn’t bring it up until her guidance counselor did.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

It was Declan who turned her around. Was he doing it for selfish reasons? Was he doing it because he knew that he liked her and he wanted her to be smart like him because it would make him feel better? Maybe. I don’t know. I’m not here to judge (that part).

But I do know that he was good for her. Even when she was with Blake, Blake might have respected her, and if she gave her opinion, he respected that, but he never asked for it. Declan asked her opinion and advice every step of the way, treated future decisions like they were mutual and inclusive, even before they started dating, her being part of the band and all.

Am I sticking up for Declan because I have a crush on him? I don’t know, but I really can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t. Stick up for him, that is. Or have a crush.

The surprising one was Jasper. Jasper was going to go to college. His parents had gone to college. Our older sister had gone off to college three years earlier. But here Jasper was, saddled with a kid.

“You need to go to college because you have to be able to give your kid a good life,” Mom kept trying to tell him.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Jasper shot back. “That’s four years I won’t be able to care for my kid at all—“

“You’ll have a support system—“

“And then what? What kind of job would I have? With a college degree? Fucking everyone has one of those, and hiring managers don’t care anymore. You know what they want? They want job experience.”

Jasper had been listening to other prospective dads at his dad-classes.

Looking back on his life, it should have been obvious to everyone—and I’m really not sure why it wasn’t—that college was never Jasper’s thing. I don’t know why they even thought he would get in. Academics never interested him. He was kind of a bum—no, that’s not true. When he did get into something, he really worked hard at it. Like, he might never have been the best musician, but he was really into actually being in a band, like the promotional side.

“You could do that for a business,” Mom suggested once. “But you’d probably have to go to business school.”

“I’ll take night classes.”

“And quit the band?”

Quit the band? Quit Angst?

It wasn’t something that Jasper had ever actually considered.

Declan hadn’t really considered it, either. Part of that was because he knew he was going to be going to college pretty close to home, and so was Raven, once she got all that straightened out. Trinity’s Field is a college town, so why not, right? Everyone did it.

And they’d hit a pretty good stride. They were playing some pretty decent gigs—not to mention winning that same aforementioned opening for SchadowFreud moment. So when it came time to really make decisions and Jasper came out with that part, Declan and Raven just looked at each other.

They had actually thought about it. No, that’s not quite true. They had talked about it, in bedroom fantasy terms, what would be like to hook up as musicians, just the two of them, strike out on their own, Raven and Declan. Declan and Raven? I always kind of resent it when the boy’s name automatically goes first, but you know…

They hadn’t really ever thought they would do it, though. They were lovers in a bubble and the bubble isn’t real, until it is.

“We should talk about this,” they agreed.

“Is this the end of Angst?” they all thought.

College is supposed to be a time of tectonic shift. You’re expected to take all your clothes off, all the way down, and try on new ones, and it’s surprising how many people find out they’ve been wearing the wrong bra. It’s a time we have for those people who go to set aside childish things and turn their dreams into magic or dust.

By the time Jasper would have gone to college, he had lost all his childish things on a bullshit gamble that hadn’t paid out. His dreams were deferred.

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About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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