I woke up and lay in bed checking social on the ceiling. I thought about people who used to drop their phones on their faces.
I paused for a long time on a photo of Ali Wheeler in a bikini. I realized my friend was awake, lying on the floor, and I asked him if he took any celebrity feeds. He said NerdGirls, which he pays for because that makes him feel better about it. I told him it bored me to look at girls who weren’t famous and who I wasn’t likely to meet. I couldn’t see him, but I imagine he shrugged.
We talked about our options for the day. He suggested going to see a 2D movie called The Blair Witch Project at a revival house, but I said I wanted to see Mars Terror. He said he assumed I wouldn’t want to see that, but I assured him I could separate the faithfully simulated colony from the fictional events that took place there in the movie. We agreed to see it at 1:00.
I went to the kitchen to get breakfast, and I saw that in the living room my dad was playing guitar and watching the California water riots. He was playing one of his country songs and singing quietly. I got toast for myself and cereal for my friend and went back to my room.
We spent the morning reading. I was glad when my friend finished his cereal, because I find his slurping disgusting. I’ve told him this. He was reading a school lesson on physics, and I was reading academic papers on interplanetary life support systems.
At noon we got dressed and walked out to the theater. We stopped at Rumbas Deli and bought falafel and a 200 mL bottle of Bacardi 151. At the theater, we bought a Coke and I went into a toilet stall and poured a lot of the rum into the cup. I wondered whether everyone assumes that’s what you’ve been doing when you emerge from a bathroom stall with a cup of Coke.
After the movie, my friend asked if I was scared. I said no, that an extraterrestrial intelligence was the least plausible plot element with which to try to scare someone who was going to Mars. I told him that a condition that killed you over a period of three to five years due to the buildup of micro-granules of sand in your lungs would have been a much more plausible and frightening plot development, though we agreed that wouldn’t have been as entertaining to simulate.
We walked to Central Park. A community orchestra was playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and we laid down on a hill where we could hear it distantly. Back where we were, no one was paying attention—they were talking and reading their social and making out. I thought about the crowd near the front, and I imagined someone crying. I also imagined someone extremely bored, and I imagined someone wanting to urinate.
We decided to finish the 151, so we went to a bodega and got another Coke. I looked at a direct from my mom, which said she was ordering pizza. I replied asking if my friend and I could have Cubans, and she said no, she’d already ordered. We walked home, drinking the Coke very quickly, and drunkenly ate pizza with my parents. I had a lot of questions to ask about the neighbors, for some reason. I thought the neighbors were a subject I could safely discuss drunkenly. I believe I was correct.
After dinner we passed out in my room, and when we woke up I checked my invites. There was a party at the apartment of this girl I knew freshman year. My friend agreed that was our best option. I showered, and my friend asked me to give him a wet washcloth so he could take a sponge bath. I told him I didn’t think that would work, but where we were going probably no one would care. We said goodbye to my parents and walked out, stopping at a bodega for some Adderall.
We were early to the party, and the girl hosting the party offered us alcarettes. I said that seemed appropriately freshman, and took one out on the porch. Some guys were about to tap the keg out there, and I looked out at the street and said that a keg in that location didn’t seem sustainable. They agreed, and moved it inside.
The girl hosting the party and I talked about old times, and I realized there was a better-than-expected chance we might hook up later. I backed off and walked around the party, looking for someone to talk to. Some girls were trying to start dancing way too early in the living room, and the keg guys were playing Beirut in the dining room. My friend was hanging on the edges of the dance party, and I asked how he was doing. He said good, and I went to go read the titles on the bookshelf. The books were ordered by color.
I leaned against the wall and watched the dance party. There was no one I wanted to talk to. I was bored. I counted the days until liftoff, and realized that it was fewer than 30. Right then, I was ready to go. I would have packed my bag and left for Mars that night. I knew that I would miss Earth when it was gone, but in that moment, I couldn’t feel sad.