The first to split was Shelly. We kind of figured it would be her, she seemed older, shrewder, than the rest of us. We’d all arrived on campus that September, unpacked our trunks in the rustic dorm rooms, and strolled together into the little town, quaint and picturesque. It was already brisk at night in this northern region, brisk and dense and with evergreens. We had on loosely woven sweaters, old jeans, we were dressed for the times, anything could happen.

So it was Shelly, blond and full figured, she wasn’t at school more than a month when she told us about Roger, a guy with horses across town, told us she’d be moving in with him. They lived in the loft above the stable.

Jane played guitar so she got attention. She was next to pack up, toss her duffle bag into the bed of a rock band’s pickup truck. We got a couple of postcards from her, that was that…

Mary was from Connecticut. She had long black hair and ivory skin, got a job at the bar in town, worked nights, wearing a red apron, then stopped going to classes altogether, why bother? We’d drop in, and she’d be serving drinks, leaning over the bar or tossing her head in laughter. She looked good.

Jan and Susan chose each other. Got two huskies from the dog shelter, bought a rattly van, we broke a bottle of sangria on the hood, then bye bye off to Canada.

Rachel left in the spring, Rachel with her lovely name and journal filled with poems, of course it would be a professor, of course she’d set her sights on him. We’d see them driving around town, top down, his thinning hair blown back. Rachel, waving her hand out the window like she was pulling it through a stream of water.

Those commune guys came through the dorm one night, talked to Beth for hours, door closed, the main one was really cute. They came back the next night and she was ready, all packed, bank book in her back pocket, text books left on the floor. Holding hands with the cute one.

Who were we? Young Girls from the city or suburbia, girls with middle class families, girls with faces like flowers, waiting to be plucked.

We didn’t know that just being young was beautiful, being young was a commodity, something we could trade for another life, a different life.

And then at last me, almost summer by then, climbing onto the back of a motorcycle, and heading west, far west, and hardly ever looking back.

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash