I Can't Imagine Being Anywhere Else

Chapter 1

“Nobody likes you when you’re 23

And you still act like you’re in freshman year.

What the hell is wrong with me?

My friends say I should act my age.

What’s my age again?”

Home. I was finally home. The dorm that would serve as a living area for the next two semesters of college looked the way it always did; small and full of sunlight streaming through large windows. I grinned hugely as I dropped my stuff by the door and went to look around. Even though I’d lived here two years in a row, I felt the excitement of a new tenant as I explored the rooms I knew by heart. The living room was a bit crowded but definitely cosy. There were many memories running through my mind as I made my way to the kitchen and got a glass of water. Then I padded to my bedroom and looked around. I crossed the room ran my hand across the smooth cherry wood desk that was pushed up against the wall. It was smooth and free of clutter. That would soon change once I got settled in. I could easily picture where all of my stuff would go. I was starting to think about becoming more organized instead of super messy when it came to my room, but my thought were rudely interrupted.

“Dammit, Kellin!”

The familiar annoyed voice made me smirk a bit to myself. I poked my head out my bedroom door just in time to see Austin, my roommate for the past two years, dragging himself up off the ground. He’d tripped over my suitcases in the doorway.

“I would apologize, but you do this every time we return and I leave my stuff in the doorway.” I pointed out. He just rolled his eyes, and I walked out into the hall to help him up and take my suitcases out of the way.

This year would be my third in Uni. I was an art major with no clue on what would come after graduation. So far I hadn’t thought of anything I could do with my degree in San Diego, California. Maybe I’ll work in an art museum. Teaching art is out of the picture, so if I don’t figure something out soon I’ll be selling my drawings on street corners.

Austin Carlile was my roommate. He was majoring in English and planned to write novels, one of which he was currently working on. Austin was a great guy. He was funny and into the same music as me. He also didn’t mind that I was gay, because my sexuality didn’t change anything between us. We were a pretty good team when it came to fighting our way through college.

“Pizza tonight?” I suggested as I got a glass of water and leaned against the kitchen counter. Our usual meals were pizza, Chinese Delivery, and Ramen Noodles. Typical college food right there, which was as gourmet as we could get.

Austin nodded. “Sounds good,” he said, and I dialled the number I knew by heart. I ordered our usual pizza with pepperoni and all the works, then went to unpack. Starting with the suitcase full of clothes, I slowly worked my way through everything. The last item to make an appearance was my lyrics notebook. It held every song and parts of songs that I had written from eighth grade to now. Inside the dark green book were scribbles and ink stains, plus a few withered spots where tears had fallen onto pages. My messy handwriting covered every page, and as of now I was about 75% through the notebook. I dreaded the day that I would have to buy a new one, because this one had seen the real me. Even if it was just a book, it felt like something important and keepsake-like.

I always kept my lyrics notebook under my bed. No one had ever seen it, and not even Austin knew that I wrote lyrics. He didn’t know that I sang, either. Singing was one of my biggest passions, but I wasn’t confident at all in my voice, so it was mostly just American Idol – Shower Version.

Just then the doorbell rang. I quickly showed my notebook in its rightful place under the bed and walked out into the entry hall. Opening the door, I saw a short blonde girl with her bleach dyed hair up in a ponytail. Her shirt read ‘Pizza Hut’, and she was carrying a large square box. “That’ll be $18.95, please.” She said in a flat voice. I guess delivering pizza wasn’t her dream job.

I dug around in my pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar bill, handing it to her and saying to keep the change. She smiled a little and gave me the hot pizza before leaving. I kicked the door shut with my foot. “Pizza’s here!” I yelled to Austin. Moments later he was walking into the kitchen and pouring us drinks while I opened the pizza box and got out plates. We each took a couple slices and then retreated into the living room to watch TV. I curled up on the sofa, taking a bite of my food.

“Sweet Jesus, this is the single best thing I’ve ever tasted.” Austin moaned, eyes closed as he chewed slowly. I laughed at him and shook my head. He was such a drama queen.

We watched some stupid action movie that honestly wasn’t interesting at all. But it was better than some show about pregnant teenagers or a documentary on turtles, so we put up with the terrible film.

At around seven PM Austin and I decided we’d had enough pizza and were both extremely bored. “You wanna go to that new music store downtown?” Austin asked. I’d forgotten about my plans to check that place out sometime. I nodded, standing up. “Let’s go.”


Ten minutes later the two of us were walking down the sidewalk with our hands shoved similarly into our skinny jeans pockets. I glanced around at the shops and buildings I hadn’t seen in so long. This summer I had taken a vacation with some old friends from my hometown to New York, and we’d only gotten back a week ago. I hadn’t realized how much I missed San Diego until now.

From the outside, the music store, named ‘Record Heaven’, looked pretty nice. There were CDs on display in the large glass windows and posters covered walls from what I could see. We walked in and I saw rows and rows of CDs. Against the walls, under the posters, where crates with record albums in them, mostly classic rock ones that hadn’t touched a turntable in years.

I smiled as I relaxed a little and started looking around. The place had a spicy cinnamon smell to it; unusual but kind of homey in a way. It reminded me of my room back home, but bigger. I used to spend all my time in that small room. It was covered head to toe in posters of my favourite bands and CDs littered any empty space. This store, however, was more organized than my room ever could’ve been.

“Looking for anything specific?” A voice spoke from behind me. I jumped, having been in my own personal thoughts for a while and not realizing it wasn’t just me in the room. I turned around and noticed a guy about my age standing a few feet away. He was holding a stack of CDs, and was obviously an employee. He had shoulder-length brown hair that curled at the ends and dark brown eyes to match, which I would’ve described as coffee coloured.

“Um, no. Just looking around.” I answered and forced a small smile. The guy nodded. His nametag read ‘Vic.’ Vic was an inch shorter than me, and that was saying something considering I was only 5’7. He had really long legs and was skinny but well-built.

“Mm,” he hummed like he wasn’t at all satisfied with my reply. “Well let me know if you need anything.” Before I could nod or say something, he turned and walked the other way, disappearing behind a tall stand of instrument accessories.

Mostly unfazed, I shrugged and started to look through the selection of music. There were some pretty good artists among the mix. I could see Austin’s head poking up randomly as if he was hopping around as he made his way through the rows. I grinned at the stupid thought of Austin as a bunny and pulled out a Blink 182 CD, deciding to get it.

After a few minutes I weaved my way through the store, passing a couple customers that had drifted in, and found Austin. “Found anything good?” I asked.

He nodded, showing me two CDs he’d picked out. “To add to my collection.”

We decided to go then. I led the way to the counter where that Vic guy was leaning against the cool glass and reading a magazine on piercings and tattoos. A noticed he had some tattoos and a nose piercing of his own. He looked up when Austin and I walked over, glancing down at what we held. “Enema of the State. Good choice.” He commented with a sense of importance in his opinion. Like he was the one to choose what the store stocked. Doubt it.

I didn’t say anything as Vic rung us up. I paid for all three of the albums. Austin grinned. “Thanks, Kellin.” He said, and I replied with, “No problem.”

Vic closed his magazine, watching us leave. “Have a nice evening!” He called out at the last minute. I was a little surprised, but looked back at him and wished him a good evening as well. Then Austin and I stepped out into the warm fall night to make our way home.


Later that night I decided to listen to the CD I bought.

As I took it out of its case, the receipt fluttered to the floor. I bent to pick it up and noticed something in blue ink scrawled messily at the bottom.

‘Bouquet of clumsy words, a simple melody.’

I was extremely confused, but decided it wasn’t worth my time to try to figure out why these lyrics were on the small slip of paper. I crumbled it up and threw it across the room to the trash can, missing my just an inch. Then I put my CD in the stereo and turned up the volume, falling back onto my bed as music filled the room. I fell asleep like that.
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