SLICE AND DICE

INTERVIEWS & PODCASTS


#51: Goodbye Jordan, by Paul Florez

Have you seen 22 Jump Street? You know, the movie that stars the deliciously handsome Channing Tatum and his BFF Jonah Hill as a pair of undercover cops that go back to college to solve a crime only to realize they are completely out of touch with this generation of party animals. Well that, my dear reader, is exactly how it felt like being a 29-year-old former publishing manager going back to school to get his MFA.

Yes, the life experience I have gained post-college has been invaluable. I’m what you’d call a fully realized adult, and will never again make the mistake of spending all of my pennies at a John Varvatos sample sale in Soho rather than paying my electric bill (contrary to popular belief a cotton linen hooded jacket is no substitute for electricity).

However, stepping foot on campus my first day of class, in a pair of sensible Sperry shoes and a white chocolate macadamia Cliff bar stowed safely away in my man purse because I was worried my blood sugar levels would plummet during my three hour class, made me feel damn old. It’s like the last six years of my adult life never happened.

“First day of class? This is so off the chain,” I said eagerly to some fish-eyed boy with swept bangs while in line at the campus cafe. “Do we download our text books on Kindles now? I only have the kindle app on my iPhone, I hope my professor doesn’t think I’m texting when I’m actually following the reading.”

“Huh,” Fish eyed boy replied, removing his headphones. “Did you say your Kindle fell off its chain?”

The takeaway from this encounter was clear: I was a dork, out of touch, and reverting back to the awkward, talkative teen I use to be. Making friends was going to be challenge.

During that first day, my workshop professor asked the class to pick a playing card out of a hat. I drew a queen, and quickly held it abreast so no body could see it. I didn’t expect to be teased in a graduate-level class for pulling a queen out of a hat but, come on, a fucking queen? Really?

Our professor then announced the person who drew a matching card would be our writing partner for the semester. I perused the room, sweeping everyone, judging their hair color, and wondering who would be forced to be my friend. Then I locked eyes with a pretty blonde haired girl. I flashed her my card, she flashed hers back. We nodded. This was how I met my BFF Jordan (or if we want to continue with the 22 Jump Street analogy, my Jonah Hill).

What to say about Jordan? Oh, she’s perfect. She founded a website called The Blonde Vegan that has earned her a massive following and has been featured on Teen Vogue. She laughs at all my jokes, is always there for me during my neurotic moments and her mom, Jane, has treated me out to drinks and dinner. As far as partners went, I struck gold.

In the early days of our friendship, I’d text Jordan at seven in morning to let her know I was writing.

“Beginning,” I’d type with an exclamation point.

“Me too,” she’d write back, with a smiley face.

Really, I wasn’t writing. I just wanted her to think I was this ultra dedicated writer, so tormented that I needed to write a sonnet before my morning Starbucks. Of course, she wasn’t writing either. We both had strict writing schedules, of course, but it didn’t involve daybreak writing sessions. A friendship founded on lies, that’s how we roll at The New School.

As time went on, we went to our program’s tea time, lectures, and class together. We even went to a Pearl Jam concert together (a true test of friendship). There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t see her. She was the kind of friend I wished I had growing up and I already envisioned us in our cap and gowns graduating together.

But when it came time to pick our classes for next year, she sent me a message.

“Go ahead and register. I have to talk to you in person,” she messaged me.

I knew what was happening. We went to Feel Food by our campus, ordered some juices, and she told me her website had been taking off and that L.A. was the best place for her (note, Jordan is from California and also wanted to be closer to family).

To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement.

It seems unfair that in life we always have to say goodbye to people we love.  In Jordan, I made a friend at a time when I didn’t I was capable of making new friends. She read my unpolished work, gossiped with me, and we experienced our first year of grad school together. How is it fair that now I won’t be graduating with her?

The other day I remembered a talk I had with her mom. Jane told me the one reason Jordan considered staying in the program was cause of me.

“Well,” I told her. “Her website in on the rise and she needs to strike while the iron is hot. The friendship Jordan and I have is for life.”

And when you’re in it for life, goodbye is meaningless.


Paul Florez is currently receiving his MFA in fiction at The New School. He is a contributor for the Huffington Post and his work has also appeared in Slice MagazineQueerty, and The Advocate. You can follow his misadventures over on twitter @mrpaulflorez.

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