College, My Ex-Boyfriend

Vanna Le is glad she broke up with College, but still misses him on occasion.

Photo by moacirpdsp

Photo by moacirpdsp

I miss the weird things you only hear about in college. There’s a whole terminology you forget when you’re away from it. Fucking jargon; the language of doing things; philosophical term papers; spatial reasoning; jocks typing on their laptops during lectures; professors with briefcases telling me that maybe I should come to office hours after their office hours have ended (I suppose it saves me the trouble of having to wait in line with a bunch of confused students?). I can’t believe I actually used to be that in touch with reality as to go to class every day. I think of college as a terrible boyfriend I finally managed to break up with for a while. I still miss him, though.

When College spent that week at my apartment after his building was evacuated so it could be treated for mold, we ate breakfast together every day at the table by the window with the potted ferns. I grounded up flaxseeds with my mortar and pestle, and sprinkled them into my gruel. College poured soymilk over his Cocoa Pebbles. He smacked a lot while eating them. It drove me mad. I couldn’t wait for him to be able to go home. I felt like punching him. College was sort of ugly, too. He was getting uglier all the time, smacking that cereal the way he did.

“Doesn’t he care about his health? The two main ingredients are rice and sugar. It’s just a big puffed nothing. He’s like a six year old. He doesn’t give a fuck about shit. Fucking cretin. I wish he would wipe the soymilk off his chin. I don’t know why we’re dating in the first place. I hate his stupid hair, too. He shouldn’t have ever cut it. I hate the way it smells. God, I wish he’d find some place else to stay. He doesn’t even like to read. What a fucking dolt. I can’t believe he pinched me the other night. I know he was just teasing, but now there’s this bruise on my leg that shows when I wear miniskirts. I hate the way he overshadows me socially, too. He’s just so oppressive. I’m going to break up with him today. This time, I really mean it. I’m not going to be manipulated by this histrionic douche bag and his fucking chocolate breakfast anymore. I don’t care if he doesn’t have anywhere to stay; I’m kicking him out when I get off work. I’m not even going loan him bus fare. He’s a fucking louse, fuck him.”

Now, I’m in New York starting my new job. It’s been a year. I’m eating breakfast alone, looking at College’s empty chair. I’ve since dry-cleaned my bright green chiffon dress; the one with drops of dried soymilk stains that dripped from College’s chin when he tried to nibble my ears one morning. “Was that the last piece of him? And now it’s gone? I’m sure his stray hairs are still on my pillowcases.”

Now, I’m looking down wistfully at the light tan spot on my leg — where the bruise used to be — sort of hoping it never heals, wishing he were here so I wouldn’t have to wash dishes by myself. It goes so much faster when one person rinses while the other one dries.

That’s what taking a break from College is like. I miss him dearly, but I know that we will never truly be apart because he’s always following me somehow — keeping his greedy eye on me. And it’s probably because I owe him so much money.

Vanna Le writes for The New Yorker's books blog and Before that, she worked as a showroom assistant for The Row, where she played dress-up with clothes designed by the Olsen twins. She lives in Brooklyn.