At the end of the last week in January, I took a look at the semester schedule to make sure I was keeping track of all the tests and term papers that I had to finish over the next few months. I don’t know why it hit me so hard at that moment, but I realized there were only three months remaining in my senior year. Classes would end after the first week of May, and on top of that was the 10-day interruption of Spring Break. Only three months left, and then we’d all be done with high school.
That looming deadline, the graduation date that would end our lives as we currently knew them, still didn’t register with most of my classmates, and that included Yvonne. It seemed they were all still living for the moment. What was odd was that my parents weren’t much better. They rarely looked at any future beyond their next cruise. My dad was a little better about that when it came to his investments, but Mom was as oblivious about the future as any teenager.
The fact that everyone around me was so complacent made me all that more worried about my own future. Although I had started looking at universities around the US in the fall, I knew that by the end of January I had to be a lot more serious about making my final choices. I did not want to go to college locally: I wanted to get away and see some other part of the US. I finally settled on two universities: a big public university in Boulder, Colorado, and a mid-sized school in central California called Davenport State University.
From the beginning it was Davenport State University that really caught my attention. DSU was built right on the coast, just north of Santa Cruz. It was a mediocre college in an overpriced state, but what appealed to me was the fact it overlooked the Pacific Ocean. I had always wanted to live near the beach and going to DSU would certainly give me that chance. The campus seemed really pretty, from what I could see from DSU promotional materials and pictures from the Internet.
However, there was something odd that drew my attention to DSU in particular. The art department had a promotional poster that featured a smiling naked young model standing on a rock with the Pacific Ocean and the late afternoon sun in the background. Her hand was stretched upwards and the camera angle made it look like she was holding the sun. The poster’s slogan read: “Join us and set your creativity free! Begin your adventure at Art_DSU@mta.corp.” I later found out the model was actually a student at the university and worked for the Art Department.
I wasn’t planning to major in art, but the poster totally fascinated me. I know it sounds totally silly that a naked art model would capture my attention in the way that she did. At the moment, the promise of freedom she represented gave me hope that DSU really was a place where students could “set their creativity free.”
I decided that DSU would be the out-of-state college of my choice and that I’d visit it during Spring Break. The university would be expensive because it was in central California, but my parents had told me they’d pay for my education as long as I was enrolled full-time, had a major that was “serious”, and kept my grades up. “Serious” meant something science-based. No humanities major with the word “studies” attached to it.
The more I looked at DSU, the more I wanted to go there. They had a respected geology department, so I figured that would be as good a major as any. Geology was a practical field that didn’t go too deep into theoretical mathematical formulas, so it was a major I figured I could handle and wouldn’t stress me out too much. I proposed studying geology at DSU to my parents and their attitude was: “OK, let’s go check it out.”
My only doubt about going to DSU was what was going to happen between me and Yvonne. At the time I didn’t see that as much of a problem. I knew that Yvonne wanted to get away from her rotten situation in Eastwood. I figured that if I went to California, I could take her with me. I’d have to get an apartment instead of living on campus, but if my parents were willing to pay out-of-state tuition for me to study in California, paying for an apartment would be more of an after-thought than anything else.
I brought the idea up with Yvonne. As I expected, at first she was very skeptical.
“California? You’re shitting me. What the fuck am I gonna do in California?”
“What you’re doing now. Giving massages. So, what you’re telling me that people don’t need massages in California? Besides, there’s a professional massage school in Santa Cruz that gives out certifications. You could get an actual degree in what you’re doing. Think about that. No more jerking guys off or putting your finger up their asses. You’d have a real license and be legit.”
“I still… I just don’t know about it. I mean, California?”
“And what’s keeping you here? School’s gonna be over in a couple of months. I’m not sticking around. I want something new. But I want you to be part of that. So come-on. Just come with me. You keep saying you want to get out of Eastwood. OK, I’m giving you a way to get out.”
“And just where the fuck am I gonna live?”
“With me. My parents will pay for either an apartment or a dorm. It’ll my choice, as long as I keep my grades up. If you come with me, I’d do an apartment.”
“I dunno. I still gotta think about it.”
She was really nervous and I knew her well enough to know why. If she went with me to Davenport, she’d be giving up what little control she had over her life. She’d become completely dependent on me. Our relationship would change, and at least for a while, I’d be the one in charge. That scared her. I understood her worry, but neither of us had any choice. High school was about to end, whether we wanted it to or not.
“Look, I’m gonna check out Davenport with my mom over spring break. I’ll send you pictures, and also where we might end up living. And I’ll also see if I can get a look at that massage school in Santa Cruz.”
“Why don’t you just look it up? The massage school, I mean? See what you gotta do to get yourself enrolled and get certified?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Her lack of enthusiasm worried me, but I figured she’d eventually come around.
Spring Break at my school started during the last week of March. I flew out to San Jose with Mom and she rented a car and we drove to Davenport. I immediately fell in love with the area. All those cliffs and coves, the winding road along the hills, and the ocean. What wasn’t there to like about it? Mom was not as impressed, but she had been all over the world in cruise ships. To her Santa Cruz and Davenport were just a couple more pretty areas out of many she had seen.
To convince her that Dad should drop a bunch of his money at DSU, I had to take my visit to the Geology Department seriously. The major seemed like something I’d be able to handle and it was for sure the job prospects for a geologist were better than any of the humanities. I badly wanted to check out the Art Department, but I had to content myself with grabbing a couple of posters from their orientation center. Fortunately, one of the posters was the one of that naked model standing next to the ocean. I’d hang that in my room and show it to Yvonne as soon as had the chance to invite her to my house again. I hoped that the poster might help convince her she’d be making the right decision if she came with me to Davenport.
I took pictures around Davenport and of the beaches that were just west of the campus, to sell her on the new life I wanted her to have with me. I also took some pictures around Santa Cruz. I didn’t get to go inside the massage school, but I got a picture of the outside. It seemed nice enough and there was nothing creepy about the students going in and out of the building. I really felt it would be the chance for Yvonne to do something positive with her experience at Gi-Gi’s. I also convinced Mom to take me to several apartments around Davenport. I took some pictures of possible places I’d rent and sent those, thinking that Yvonne would be totally happy at the thought of getting away from her “old man” and “that fucking street-walker he’s living with”.
I felt so confident during that week in Davenport. I felt for sure that it was in California where we’d build our lives together. We would be with each other full-time, living our own lives, and not having to dodge my parents or the cliques at school. We’d have all the time we needed to figure out what we wanted from our relationship. Maybe we’d even get married.
I sent Yvonne a bunch of images, but after the second day I was in Davenport, she quit responding. I found that odd and worrying, but with Mom next to me, I had to stay focused on DSU and convincing my parents why I should study there as opposed to somewhere else. I had to pass myself off as more serious than I really was and make her think DSU was best for my academic future, not because I liked the beach and wanted to start a new life with a girlfriend she didn’t even know about.
Finally I got Mom’s approval. She’d recommend that Dad pay for me to study at DSU. So, with a couple of DSU shirts and other souvenirs from Davenport and Santa Cruz I had bought for Yvonne, I boarded the plane with Mom to return home.
I was about to get my wish for college, but as the days went by, I was not happy. By the time I was sitting in a terminal of the airport in San Jose, I had not heard from Yvonne for over a week and her chats had not been updated. I was frantically texting her, but still no answer. When we got back home, I tried texting again, but it turned out that her cell phone had been disconnected.