Chapter One

What the fuck, man? I mean honestly, what the fuck?

How does life suddenly crash on you when everything was going so well? It reminded me of a computer virus. You're downloading music, surfing the web, chatting in an IM window, and the suddenly everything shuts down.

Do you restart?

I tried. That's how I ended up in Orange County, California, hot spot for skin-cancer advocates and trendy college students.

New York lost its appeal. You all know of course, that my plan was to return to NYC from New Hope, Maine, after graduating. You knew I wanted to go be with Jillian, with whom I'd foolishly hoped I'd be with forever.

I wanted in with the band again, nevermind that I'd been replaced. I was so stupid.

I sighed. Maybe I'd made a mistake in coming here. All I know was that I wanted to be as far away from my old life as possible. I left the University of Art, left Jillian to pay rent all by herself after I discovered her cheating on me, with a man no less, and bid Mark a farewell and good luck with his new boyfriend.

It seems I'm not too fond of Cali either. What use do I have for a beach? If I wanted to swim, I'd use a pool. I don't particularly like the sun, seeing as I value healthy skin. I must be the only though, because everyone else around is fried extra crispy.

I decided to transfer to a university here, College of Liberal arts. It had a rather large campus and lots of student services and activities, which I liked. I tended to spend many long hours in the Student Union, whether it was doing my homework or chilling with a bagel and espresso.

Mom wasn't too happy to find that I was transferring. I already knew what her argument was going to be, too.

"I'll be all alone out here on the east coast," she'd whined. "Ever since your dad…" She trailed off. I think she liked to use Dad as a guilt trip from time to time, but it wasn't working. I needed out.

And to be honest, I needed to get away from her too.

"I'm sorry Mom," I'd told her evenly. "I need an out. I want to start over and make a new life for myself."

"That means I'll have to fly out to see you then," she seemed to resign herself to the idea after a few moments. I could already see the wheels turning in her head. There was no escape from this woman. I sighed.

Jillian had been upset that I was leaving on such short notice too.

"You're just leaving?" she stood in the doorway to our bedroom, watching me ruffle through clothes, and shoving what I still wanted into my suitcase.

"Yeah."

"How am I supposed to afford rent?"

I zipped up the suitcase and hauled it upright. Most of my stuff was already in the taxi waiting to take me to the airport.

"Have your new boyfriend move in," I shoved past her and out to the door. Last I saw of Jillian was her face in the window. I still loved her, but I had to be cold if I wanted to put this behind me.

I'd squared my shoulders, hopped into the taxi and never looked back. Goodbye New York.

Orange County…had been something else. I wasn't expecting the rush of heat that hit my face when I left the airport terminal. I moved on over to the rental car desk and told the receptionist my name.

My car was waiting for me. Good thing I planned all this out ahead of time, making sure I had a car reserved and all. I didn't need it long. The college provided a free metro bus ticket, so I could basically hitch a ride anywhere.

I had two suitcases and a duffel bag. I loaded them into the back seat and left the airport. The campus was located thirty miles to the east of me, so I got on the interstate and headed in that direction, keeping my eyes half on the road and half on the map next to me.

Signs directed me and told me what exit I needed and what direction I had to go. It was simple. I arrived with little difficulty and was left staring in awe.

Lush green lawns covered every area that wasn't occupied by a building. Speaking of the buildings, they were pretty massive too.

I drove around until I located my dorm building. Havenwood Hall. It was a coed dorm, which served me just fine.

I parked and sauntered into the building. A young man sitting at the desk inside gave me my room key and a layout of the dorm.

I trooped upstairs to the third floor and took a left down the hall. I had a single room, which meant no roommate. And that was just fine as well.

The room was tiny. A single bed, one desk and chair, and a closet. Good enough, I supposed.

Time to get settled in.