Logan was ten minutes late...again. You could always count on him to either be ten minutes late or thirty minutes early to anything, there was no in between. Perhaps it was a journalist thing. I considered this while I settled into where the foot of my bed met the wall and the edge of my desk, picking up my Business and Finance textbook. I had a lot of reading to do this weekend, so I should definitely not have been going to this concert. I recalled telling Logan just as much when he said we should go.
“It will be fun, Harper.” Logan argued, when I protested. He had come by my dorm room to tell me he’d just gotten a writing assignment for this Saturday. Logan wrote for our university’s newspaper, the Daily Free Press a.k.a. the Freep. His dream was to write music reviews for just about any media outlet that would have him, so he took any chance he could to review bands passing through Boston. Usually I didn’t mind tagging along but this week was especially stressful and I just didn’t see how I could make time.
“You wouldn’t even be going if you didn’t have to write about it for the Freep.” I argued.
“Yes, that’s true, but if you go with me Saturday, I’ll help you study on Sunday.” He compromised.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “All day?”
“All day.” He agreed, with a swift kiss to my nose. “I’ll even throw in a Spanish Latte from Pavement.” Pavement was a local chain coffeehouse we had on campus. While I didn’t care much for their food options, he knew their Spanish Latte was my weakness. I hesitated before responding and he knew he had me. “Great! It starts at 7.” He said, sauntering out of my room with a grin.
Logan and I started dating during our freshman year at Boston University. We met during orientation the first week we arrived here. Both of us coming from the west coast – me from LA and him from Seattle – we ended up getting put into the last orientation group together. The group was on the larger side, about 30 of us to one very enthusiastic guide. On our way to one of the events, our group passed a large amount of students chanting. The First Year Student Outreach Program, or FYSOP as they were known colloquially, was in full swing. They get together a week before everyone else starts and do charity work in different areas of Boston. While that is all well and good, the one thing they do not ever stop doing is chanting.
“Don’t they ever stop chanting?” I whispered underneath my breath to no one in particular, but I had an echo. I looked to my left and smiled. A guy with dark blonde hair and green eyes, almost my height – putting him at about 5’7” – chuckled. “Not a fan of FYSOP either?” I asked, shoving my hands into the pockets of my denim shorts.
“All for the cause.” He said, giving me a crooked grin. “I’m just not sure why they need to chant all day. I think they went until 10 last night.”
“Oh they definitely did.” I nodded, “I could hear them from my dorm room.”
“I’m Logan.” He offered, a kind smile forming on his face.
We became fast friends. It was easy with Logan. We had a similar sense of humor and even more similar personalities. We fit really well together, so it was no surprise to anyone when we started dating that October and by November we were exclusive. Now we were in October of our junior year and things were going great.
“Sorry I’m late.” Logan said, entering my room and planting a kiss on my cheek. His cheeks are tinged pink from the nippy northeastern air. He didn’t offer an excuse, he never does.
“It’s no problem.” I said, closing my book. “I got some reading done while I waited. Let me just get my coat.”
If you’ve never experienced northeast weather, let me just tell you how lucky you are. It changes every five minutes, but once October hits it only goes from cold to freezing. I was wearing jeans and a burnt orange sweater. My peacoat buttoned on top of that with a white scarf tucked in.
“Harper, it’s not that cold out.” He laughed.
“You keep telling yourself that buddy.” I replied, slipping my gloves on. “I for one am not going to freeze in the wind tunnel known as Commonwealth Avenue.” It was notorious for being at least 15 degrees colder than the actual temperature, maybe even 20. The wind bit any skin it could find. I already knew my face would be a tomato once we got to Paradise. Paradise Rock was the venue the band was playing at and it was on the west side of campus, about a 15 minute walk when the wind velocity was on your side, but it usually wasn’t.
And it definitely wasn’t on our side. When we entered Paradise after 20 minutes, Logan was all but frozen and my cheeks were rosy. The bouncer gave us 21+ wristbands. “I won’t say I told you so,” I said, pulling off my gloves. Logan rolled his eyes and started unbuttoning his coat to give to the coat check attendant.
Logan had worn a button up under his coat and he took his time cuffing his sleeves. Logan was attractive in that beautiful sort of way. His blond hair perfectly styled, his face perfectly proportioned, and he had a smile that could stop you in your tracks. It was a wonder I did anything but stare at him. He noticed me staring and gave me a confused look. I shook my head and kissed him quickly before taking his hand and letting him tow me along.
We took a seat at the bar and got settled in, ordering drinks. “I’ll take a Goose IPA and she’ll have a Downeast.” Logan said to the bartender easily. “They go on at 8:30 and then I have to interview their front man afterwards. We should be out of here by 10.” He promised.
“No rush.” I replied. I had already made peace with not getting work done tonight. In fact, him being late already put me ahead of where I planned to be. The bartender gave us our drinks, Logan paid, and we went to join the crowd.
Logan wrapped his arm around my waist and sipped his drink; I leaned into him. This felt comfortable, like this was how we would always be. Being with him was almost second nature to me now. My phone buzzed, it was a Snapchat from Logan’s sister, Celeste, of her sitting on a couch watching Netflix. The caption read, “wild Saturday night”. I laughed and showed Logan, who smiled and held me tighter. Celeste was 15 and we got along pretty well. I didn’t have any siblings, so she was the closest I got to having a sister. I clicked reply and sent her a selfie making a silly face with Logan in the background. Putting my phone away, Logan pulled me in closer and we swayed to the music while drinking. It was nice.
My phone buzzed again and I was expecting a reply from Celeste, but instead it was a text from my roommate, Emily. She was inviting us to an MIT frat party. I replied and told her we’d be the concert until then and that we might show up after. Emily and I had been roommates since freshman year. We were randomly assigned together and got along, so we’ve stuck it out for the long haul. Emily and I share the same ability to be candid, but she’s much better at being social than I am. If you can picture short-haired Nina Dobrev, you can pretty much picture Emily.
Physically, we were total opposites. My wavy blond hair fell to the middle of my back. I had green eyes, where hers were brown. Her size 2 physique meant my size 6 body could never borrow her clothes. I could maybe pass for Blake Lively’s thicker twin sister. Emily also spent hours at the gym every week, she was on lightweight rowing team, whereas I’d never be caught dead lifting a weight. I much preferred to run or hit up a CorePowerYoga class.
My phone buzzed again with a text from Emily that said Leave Logan at home!!!! I rolled my eyes and put my phone in my back pocket before Logan could read the text. Despite them being my only two friends, I seldom hung out with the two of them together. Logan and Emily do not get along, not even a little bit. In fact they spend most of their time avoiding each other. This proves more difficult than you would imagine since they both write for the Freep and are journalism majors. I am not sure what caused the initial distain for each other, but I have learned not to push them on it.
“So I heard back from that media conference.” Logan said when the first band finished their set. “My article for the symposium was accepted.”
I turned to look at him, my face lighting up. “That’s amazing, Logan. I’m so proud of you.” I say, kissing him. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Logan had talked about this media journalism conference nonstop this past summer. He’d submitted an article showcasing social media’s impact on the decline of country music. It was pretty good, not that I knew enough about journalism to definitively say so, but clearly real journalists thought so too. The conference was being held in Austin, Texas this year, but they don’t release the dates or the acceptances until around this time, Logan had told me back then.
“Well, I was going to call you, but then I found out when the conference was.” He says, eyes looking anywhere but at me.
“Okay?” I reply. He was being vague and it was mildly irritating. I’m a much more get to the point kind of person.
I got that mostly from my mom, she was extremely blunt, which made my most of my teen years a real treat. I inherited her wavy blonde hair, upturned nose, and easily irritable temperament. My parents’ relationship was an enigma because my dad was the nuclear opposite. He was charming and charismatic, what you might call a “people person”, but I am pleased to report I got his easy sense of humor and compassion. On a good day I was a blast to be around, on a bad day...not so much.
“It’s during our New York trip. Thanksgiving week.” Logan said, finally. Oh.
A wave of disappointment washed over me. We’d been looking forward to this trip since June. Logan’s parents had recently divorced and so they gave him an out this Thanksgiving instead of making him pick between the two of them. Celeste was not so lucky. Originally, I was going to ask my parents if Logan could come home with me, but then he had this great idea for a trip down to New York. We would see Times Square, maybe catch a show; I was really excited. When I asked my parents, they were thrilled to let me go. They immediately started planning a trip to Hawaii. It was a good situation all around, suffice for Logan’s parents’ divorce being the cause of this arrangement; but now it looks as if my trip won’t be happening and I didn’t have a backup.
“Gotcha.” I said and sighed outwardly.
It was in no way Logan’s fault, but I couldn’t help but feel annoyed. This was supposed to be our first trip together alone. I obviously couldn’t ask him not to go, that would be ridiculous, but I would be lying if I said that a little part of me didn’t want him to skip the conference.
“We can still do some of the trip, Harper.” He said, mildly annoyed at my lack of enthusiasm. “We can take the train up there on Saturday, I can fly to Austin for three days and fly back in on Thanksgiving.”
I looked at him and smiled warily. “I want you to be excited. Don’t worry about the trip.” I tell him, this time he arches an eyebrow at me and I laugh. “I know, it’s out of character, but you worked really hard for this, Logan. I don’t want to stop you.”
He smiled at me and pulled me to him, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. “I’m so lucky to have you, Harper.” He said and kissed me. “I promise I’ll make this up to you. We’ll plan an even better trip for spring break.”
I smirked at him. “Whatever you say.” I knew he meant it, but teasing was what we did.
We went to grab some more drinks at the bar. This time we cheers’ed to Logan’s article and talked about our new adventure together. Maybe I could come with him to Austin, he suggested. I shrugged and suggested DC. We continued like this until the house lights went down again, signaling the beginning of the band’s set.
“They’re supposed to be really good.” Logan tells me. “Like Bastille meets the Dropkick Murpheys.”
Interesting, I thought to myself, not necessarily a combination I have wanted to hear. As we returned to the floor, we saw Franco, the FreeP’s photographer, make his way to the front of the crowd. Franco and Logan have known each other since freshman year, when they were roommates. He’s in the College of Fine Arts, studying Photography and Visual Arts. Logan has since gotten his own studio apartment in Allston. Franco spotted us from the front and gave us a wave. I smiled back at him and Logan nodded.
“How’s Franco doing? I haven’t seen him around.” I asked, turning around to face the stage. Logan pulled me back against his chest and rests his chin on my shoulder.
“I actually haven’t seen him too much either. He’s been working on his portfolio. He’s trying to do a summer internship in Spain.” Logan says.
“Spain,” I say. “That’s an idea.”
Logan laughed and his breath tickled my neck. I squirm and he holds me tighter. I smiled and let myself relax into him. I’d forgotten about work and studying, all I felt was Logan. It was easy to do that around him. His presence had always consumed me. I had heard your first love was supposed to be like that. I didn’t date anyone before Logan, so everything with him was new and uncharted territory. Loving Logan felt like I was free falling but completely secure. He tilted his head down and kissed my shoulder.
Now is probably a good time to mention that I didn’t have many friends in high school. It was probably due to my genuine distaste for other people but also a case of incompatible personalities. You see, the west coast and the east coast are extremely different in more than just their weather patterns. The people who inhabit them are different. According to a Google search I did before accepting my spot at Boston University, people on the east coast are much more similar to me. Multiple, non-evidence-based but totally reliable, internet sources told me that the east coast was more blunt and work focused. In LA, you can make a living as social media influencer and in Boston, you simply can not. The funny thing about the two places is that I’ve never met more Californians than I have in Boston and when I went to a Dodgers/Red Sox game back home, there were way more Bostonians than their SoCal counterparts. It was like the people who lived in each place, yearned to be in the other. And that was me: raised in one place, but destined to be in another.
This largely attributed to my lack of friends. I had the personality of a Bostonian, but the locale of the opposite.
The stage lights went up bringing me back from my thoughts and the band started to play. Logan was right, they were good. We danced and sang along to a cover of the Killers’ Mr. Brightside. I was glad I came. When it was over, Logan made his way backstage with his pen and notebook wedged in his back pocket. I headed to the bar for one last drink. The bartender passed it to me and I realized my wallet was in my coat.
“Sorry, give me one second. My wallet is-” I started to say.
“I got it.” A voice to the left of me chimed in.
“Oh you don’t have to-” I stopped when I saw him.
Now, there have only been a few times in my life when I have found myself rendered completely speechless. The first, when I forgot the words to Firework by Katy Perry during my 11th grade talent show. It was for charity and my dad guilted me into it, safe to say he hasn’t tried to guilt me into something since. The second, would be now. I had never seen a guy so stunningly attractive. His hair was a shaggy brown, touching the tops of his ears and curling around them. His eyes were such a clear blue, I could feel myself drowning in them. His angular jaw lined with a dark stubble. He was wearing a band shirt I couldn’t make out under an open flannel button up. A walkie talkie appeared to be attached to his jeans. It felt like I had been staring for a long time, but it must have just been a beat because he said -
“That’s alright. Save you the trip to the coat room.” He said with a smile, producing a singular left dimple. Oh my god. “Sam, I got her and I’ll have a Stella.” He says to the bartender.
“Thanks.” I say, taking sip of my cider.
Pull yourself together, Harper, I think to myself. Logan is literally 30 feet away. You were just thinking about how much you love him. You can not ogle a guy at a bar.
“Don’t mention it.” He said, pulling me out of my mental scolding. “How’d you like them?”
“What?” I asked, confused.
“The band?” He blinked, his long lashes fanning his face. Stop. “Five to One? Did you like them?”
So that was their name. “Oh yeah! They were great!” I say. “I’m a sucker for a good Mr. Brightside cover.”
He laughed. God, even his laugh is attractive. “For sure. They used to do a lot of country/pop stuff, but they recently decided alternative punk was their calling.” He tells me.
“Have you seen them before?” I inquired, taking another drink.
“Once, two or three years ago. When I first started working here.” He must have seen my confusion, because he said, “Lights. I work the lights on weekends. It was something I used to do in high school and now I do part time.”
“That’s really cool.” I say. “You must see lots of bands.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely a fun perk of this job.” He agreed. We chatted some more about his working at Paradise. He was telling me about how one of the bands asked him to come on tour with them to do their lights for the rest of their east coast leg, when I felt Logan come up next to me.
“There’s no way that happened.” I laughed, as Logan places his arm around me. “I don’t believe you.”
“It totally happened!” He exclaimed, glancing at Logan, then back at me.
“How’d it go?” I ask Logan, offering him the rest of my drink.
He took it, not looking at me, but instead at the guy I’ve been talking to. “Good. Who’s your friend, Harper?” Logan asks.
“Oh! Umm...shoot. I didn’t get your-”
“Sawyer.” He replied, extending his hand to Logan.
Logan returned the handshake. “Thanks for keeping my girl company.” My girl, I thought to myself, calm down there. I rolled my eyes outwardly and Sawyer smirked.
“Oh sure.” Sawyer said. “Anytime. It was great talking to you, Harper.” He says getting up, I flashed him a smile. “Nice meeting you, Logan.”
Sawyer headed backstage and Logan finished my drink. I could tell he was irritated, but I ignored it. I was not in the mood to pick a fight in the cold. “Ready to go?” I asked as he stalked away towards the coat check. “Ookay. I’ll take that as a yes.”