The mean old lady across the hall was talking to her birds again — she must have had a dozen or so in there. I imagine that there was bird-shit all over her apartment, which would seem to fit her personality. Every time we turned on any music she'd start banging at precisely 10pm. We'd already gotten several calls from the landlady about complaining neighbors. What the hell were these college students doing in a building full of old folks?
When I wasn't in class or working, I spent most of my time in Boulder with Marie. When I was forced to be home, I isolated myself in my bedroom, doing what I could to shield myself from Leah's attacks. Kami was finally getting all she ever wanted, now that she was Leah's sole ally. Our walls were thin, and I could hear them plotting and talking about me.
It was around this time that I got a hold of The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It was the perfect escape from my hellish living situation. The characters of that story would leave such an impression on my heart and soul, I'd name my children from it's pages. They were powerful women, sometimes caught in circumstances over which they had no control, manipulated by people who were supposed to protect them, but always counting on the ultimate justice of the universe (karma) to come around when it was time. I knew the same would happen in my situation.
I came home from class one day to find that Kami and Leah had moved out. And when I say moved out, I mean taken all of their shit, ransacked all of mine, and left me a catty little note in my diary, just to let me know how terribly amused they were with my life. And oh, they'd be bailing on the lease, and all of the bills that were in my name. Luckily, I knew that Kami and Leah's parents' had co-signed on our lease, but I hadn't allowed my dad to do that. I had really been hoping to make it on my own. But now, that seemed unlikely. It would take years of lawsuits to straighten out the financial mess they'd left for me.
After they were gone, Marie started spending more time at my apartment. We were unexpected allies, and our friendship was blooming. I knew how lonely I was so far away from home and without any friends, but I wouldn't know for years how desperately Marie needed a friend in those days. She'd just gotten her heart broken by her first love with a woman — but she wasn't coming out of the closet yet. We had fun, traipsing around Denver and Boulder, hiking in the mountains and wreaking havoc at the Cherry Creek Mall. We'd skip along, singing songs we'd learned in Catholic school or play practical jokes on couples walking hand in hand through the holiday-decorated gazebo across from the mall. Marie was totally unpredictable and helped me to let my hair down a little. But her immaturity would sometimes stun me and even scare me. Like when she befriended some street-kids in Denver and had them over to my apartment to get high. They were ten and twelve years old! When I cautioned her and pleaded that she not bring them over to my apartment, she said I was paranoid and "no fun."
Marie just did whatever she wanted, with little boundaries.
By the time Christmas rolled around, we were both headed back to Chicago. I'd barely passed my classes, and I'd flunked the only one that really mattered to me: 3-D Design. My brother and my friend Rhiannon came out to get us and after spending some time hiking in the mountains, we headed back across the flat Midwest. I never spoke to Kami or Leah again. And I haven't visited Denver or Boulder since.