I’m in a science fiction literature class right now—hear that, future employers? Science fiction! Just think of all the Blade Runner references I’ll be able to throw out during project meetings!—and I recently learned that comic books often include something called an origin story. According to Wikipedia, an origin story “reveals how a character or team gained their superpowers and/or the circumstances under which they became superheroes or supervillains.”
Jules and I are not technically superheroes, but we were Batman and Darth Vader for Halloween once. Between the two of us, we had one cape. Julie got really mad at the cape for some reason and threw it into the middle of a crowded frat basement. We never saw the cape again.
This is our origin story.
To be honest, I have no clue when I first met Julianne Riley. (For those of you who might not be friends with her on Facebook, her full name is indeed Julianne. For those of you who are friends with her on Facebook and message her like “hey, Julianne!”—that’s a dead giveaway that you’ve never actually talked to her before. Just a heads up to future suitors.) She was in my high school class. She had long reddish hair, she was pretty quiet in class, and she was hilarious. These were things I knew, mostly from other people. We were friendly, but nowhere close enough to be called friends.
Our junior year, we had a year-long class AP Composition class together. (Foreshadowing, am I right?) She sat behind me, or maybe in front of me, who knows. She swears that one afternoon we had this long-ass, in-depth conversation about books while we were supposed to be discussing synthesis of ideas in an essay about Eugenics. I don’t have a great memory of this, or most of my junior AP classes for that matter—I didn’t handle stress so well my junior year. I think my brain just shut off so I wouldn’t have to relive all the five paragraph essays and crying over essentially nothing while trying to review for the SATs. But I look back on that vague memory of a conversation with warmth in my heart. It was the first of literally hundreds of times that Jules and I would use books to procrastinate whatever we were actually supposed to be doing.
Senior year, we had two year-long AP classes together. Jules sat two rows ahead of me in AP Lit, and about ten desks to my left in AP European History. (By senior year I’d developed some stress-coping mechanisms, so I remember these classes pretty well.) Once, Julie and our friend Sagar went rogue with the iPods that Mr. Audley gave us to research with in AP Euro—they took candid pictures of everyone in the class during one of his lectures. In my photo, my hand was on my face and my fingers were squishing my nose weirdly. Julie, Andie, and Meg would later tell me this is something I absentmindedly do a lot. But Jules saw it happen in 2011. And she still became friends with me eventually.
At the end of the year, Mr. Audley took us on a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Julie and I wandered away from the class and found a painting that really hit home. I took a picture for our dearest friends and loved ones.
I remember walking away from that field trip thinking, holy shit, Julie Riley is cool as hell. I still think that on most days. (Except for when I go away for the weekend and she forgets to give me back my tweezers. When that happens I swear at her a little bit in my head and almost text her in all caps to GIVE ME BACK MY DAMN TWEEZERS, but even then I still think she is at least marginally cool.)
On the first and only night of UNH orientation the summer before we started college, Julie and I took a walk to the Wildcat. (If you’re not a UNH alum, there’s a giant statue of a wildcat right outside of our hockey stadium, and they make you rub its nose for good luck like once a week when you’re a freshman.) We’d already rubbed the statue’s nose during the campus tour earlier that day, but we were excited and hyper and a little bit anxious. Everyone was. This was the place we were going to be for the next four years. This was college. Everything was about to change.
Some kids were already trying to drink out of plastic water bottles in dorm rooms furthest away from orientation leaders. A few of the girls Julie and I were with talked about going to get pizza at a place one of the leaders had mentioned. Jules turned to me and said, “wanna take a walk?”
We walked down Main Street in fleece jackets, just the two of us. It was bizarrely cold for June. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but if I know us, it was about how nervous and excited we were. How scared we were to jump into this new place. How beautiful the campus looked at night and how much we fucking loved Harry Potter. (I know that one came out early.) We probably didn’t even know where we were going, but we knew we had to get there fast, because we only had about twenty minutes before curfew. The Wildcat found us just in time. I made Julie hop up there so I could get a picture for our moms.
Walking home from the Wildcat that night, I remember getting this giddy feeling in my stomach. Like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. We didn’t know what was waiting for us come September, or who we’d meet, or how we’d change. But we were at the beginning of a new adventure. And whether or not we knew it then, we were going to take it on together.
Until next Monday, my friends. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of us standing next to each other at senior prom.