“In that book which is my memory, On the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you, appear the words, 'Here begins a new life'.”
- Dante Alighieri
Early August 2003
The sound of the basketball hitting the pavement was the only sound that filled the air, aside from the occasional passing car. My twin sister, Daina and I played basketball at the South Green Courts that stood in front of the four dorms called the “Front Four” on Ohio University's campus. We had just left work for the day and didn't really want to return to our apartment. Daina wanted to play for a little while for some off season practice. She was starting her junior year at Ohio University and played for the women's basketball team. We were the only two people playing basketball on these particular set of courts. That was to be expected during the summer in a college town. During the warmer months of the school year, it is almost impossible to play on these courts without waiting for a while.
In terms of activity, it had been virtually dead in Athens, Ohio for most of the summer. The students left back in early June, making Athens a virtual ghost town. The population was about to spike up again in about three weeks because of all the students returning. That meant that on move in day, traffic would be horrendous and virtually impossible to go anywhere that involved campus. For some reason, city and university officials deemed it necessary to change up road patterns to make things easier for students moving into the dorms. It made things a lot worse.
However, Ohio University's pre-college session had started and the incoming freshman, along with their parents, had come in swarms to get a feel for the university and its campus life. It was an interesting first few days so far. This was our first year working a pre-college event at Nelson Dining Hall. The incoming freshman and their parents would come to the dining hall's banquet side to eat lunch and dinner and then breakfast the following morning. We had just worked a breakfast and lunch shift and was off for the rest of the day.
I dribbled the ball in front of my sister, who was on defense. She remained low and close, knowing I would have to eventually shoot the ball since we were playing one on one. She swiped at the ball from time to time knowing she had an unfair advantage since she continued to play the sport after high school while I only played pick-up games. She was obviously better than me at this sport. She had more stamina than I did and I was about out of it. We had been playing for a few hours and the heat was getting to me. It looked like it was getting to her as well. I had shed my shirt because it became a sweat soaked piece of lead and she only sported her sports bra. It was hot enough for her to take off her old sleeveless basketball shirt from high school. I only wore a pair of shorts that were mostly black with gold accents and a pair of Nike basketball shoes. She was now in a black sports bra and white and green shorts and her old high school shoes. Her brown hair, that was the same color as mine, was pulled back into a pony tail hung down to the nape of her neck.
“Whacha got, Little Brother?” she said trying to taunt me. Our green eyes met for a second before hers went down to my hips so she could read what I was about to do next.
I just shook my head as I tried to drive the lane. That didn't work. I turned around with my back to her. I tried to fake a spin to the left and shoot a fade away jumper but she knew my tactic as she was already on my right side and stripped the ball from my hands. She ran down court and did a lay-up to score.
“That's game,” she said.
“It was game like twenty points ago,” I said. She laughed as she walked back with the ball wedged between her arm and hip. She wasn't as winded as I was but she was probably just as sweaty.
“Don't be too hard on yourself,” she said. “You keep me on my toes.”
“Do I really or are you just saying that?” I asked as I walked over and grabbed our shirts and slung them over my shoulder.
“Eh, a little bit of both,” she said with a smile and a wink. “Let's go into the market and grab some Gatorade then go back to the apartment.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. “I'm glad to see some good looking freshmen coming in this year.”
Daina smirked. “Liz will be starting her freshman year here in the fall.”
“Yeah, her uncle is the general manager at Nelson.”
“Oh I didn't know that,” I said. “I just thought he was another Dowler since there are a few around these parts. That may explain why she came to Nelson to work.”
“And have you noticed that the dining hall uses banquet setups for pre-college?”
“Kinda hard not to notice since we have been working it,” I said unsure of what she meant.
“I mean that we make everything look fancy and cater to the new kids but when they actually come here for school, they are subjugated to the regular food that isn't exactly on par with the banquet food.”
I smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I did notice that. We give the parents a false impression and then show the kids the real stuff after the parents are out of the picture.”
We walked into the main doors of Nelson Dining Hall that led into a lobby. Straight ahead was the doorway into the dining hall itself but there were other sections to the building. In the lobby were three stores. One was the market which was a small convenience store, another was the Grab N' Go and that was more like a fast food restaurant for students if they chose not to eat in the dining hall and the third store was the Snack Attack. It had just opened and it sold candy, coffee and baked items. The lobby was remodeled at some point last year and introduced the Grab N' Go and Snack Attack. However, the Snack Attack was not doing a lot of business, never did, and both were closed over the summer due to lack of business. The market was left open because it was popular with the various camps that came to the university during the summer.
Over the summer only one person was usually in the market at any given time due to the low numbers and it was one of the student managers. Some market student managers would demote themselves to a normal student employee for a shift or two to get hours if they couldn't get the hours as a manager in the market.
Right now, the manager in the market was Adam Hazenfield. He was the current coordinator of the market. He bestowed a manner of confidence that was often confused with arrogance. I guessed that came with the territory of being in a fraternity.
This was his senior year and then the reigns would go to whomever was chosen to run the place. I was just promoted to student manager so I wondered if I was even in the running at all or if I had to have a certain amount of experience first. Of course, needing experience didn't necessarily mean that it was a requirement since a few people were promoted to student manager before me and they were not there long enough to do so. One girl was dating a student manager and she was promoted to manager status after only a semester of working in the dining hall. She got the job because she was sleeping with one of the managers.
Adam looked up from his crossword puzzle as we entered the small store. He straightened his posture. “What's up, guys?”
Daina shook her head. “Nothing really. Just finished playing basketball and figured we needed something cold afterward since the heat is unrelenting today.”
“I'd say it's the humidity,” Adam said. “But I don't have to worry about it because by the time I get off work, it will have cooled off a bit by then and as you can tell, it's air conditioned in here.”
As we made small talk, one of the student managers from the dining hall strolled into the market. I nodded to him as he came up to us, specifically Daina. He's had an interest in Daina for a while but she kept shooting him down.
“We're having a party this weekend at the house. You should come,” he said.
“I'll think about it,” Daina replied. “I may be busy. We'll see what happens.”
He ventured off shortly after that but I knew Daina had no real plans on going to the party. The last party we went to that was hosted by him, he tried to get her to go to his room so he could have sex with her. She saw through his plans and denied him at every turn. She was more interested in another one of the managers named Kyle.
Kyle was more of the gentleman type. He was also more “country” than most. He liked to wear cowboy boots and hats and flannel shirts. He even had a slight southern twang to his voice. However, Daina was not alone when it came to having an interest in Kyle. A lot of the other female employees also thought he was very good looking and sought his attention. Although, I think Daina was more interested in the gentleman aspect of Kyle. Those two had gone out on a few dates and he never tried to make a move with her. I think that's what she liked best about him. Hell, I approved of him because of that fact alone. If anyone was going to date my sister, I'd allow Kyle to be the one to do so.
“So how do you think the Steelers will do this season?” Adam asked.
I shrugged. “I have no idea. They aren't really consistent. Sometimes they'll do well enough to go far in the playoffs then lose, then they'll keep the same team the following year and have a horrible season. It depends on what they are feeling like.”
Adam nodded. “Yeah. My Browns are tough to pinpoint but they usually suck anyway so I'm not getting my hopes up when it comes to their playoff hopes.” We headed towards the door after getting a few bottles of Gatorade and Adam went back to his crossword puzzle. “Oh, what was the famous offensive in sixty-eight?”
“Tet,” I said before walking out.
The following day we were working at the dining hall during lunch. I worked in the dishroom while Daina worked as a server. On occasion I would work as a server but I preferred the dishroom. I generally had more fun in there and we didn't have to be on our best behavior like our waitstaff counterparts.
The event was over until dinner and I was in the banquet storage room restocking the plates and other items. I looked over to see a girl I recognized as Liz Dowler. She was a girl just out of high school, complete with the athletic frame from being a cheerleader of however many years. She was definitely easy on the eyes but rumor had it that she was quick to tell a person what was on her mind.
I knew of her from high school and she was friends with Daina. I walked up to her and placed a few pitchers on the shelf next to her.
“Hey, what's up?” I asked. “Daina says you're going to OU this fall.” She seemed to be startled. I wasn't sure if I inadvertently snuck up on her or she just wasn't expecting me to talk to her. Her hazel colored eyes looked at me with unfamiliarity as if she was trying to read me.
“Uhh, yeah I am. I'm going for plant biology,” she said. Her voice was filled with uncertainty and I didn't know why.
“That's cool,” I said. The conversation didn't last much longer. She went back out to the serving floor to help clean and I went back into the dishroom.
Later, Daina and I walked out of the building together after we finished cleaning.
“I think you freaked out Liz,” Daina said.
I was caught off guard by that comment. “Oh? Why's that?”
“She came out of the storage room and walked up to me as I was clearing a table and said 'Your brother just came up to me and started talking to me as if we had known each other for a while.' I wasn't sure how to respond.”
“Oh. I kinda feel bad now,” I said.“Don't worry about it,” she said. “I think your sudden approach along with how you talked to her just caught her off guard.”