The Clasp

Even now, a decade later, he could remember that freshman-specific sensation. Like he’d know this girl for the rest of his life and like he’d never see her again. Turns out both hunches were right.

Sloane Crosley '00‍, From The Clasp

How a girl like Olivia Arellano had heard of a tiny liberal arts school in New England, never mind applied to it, never mind heard of New England, confounded him to this day. He and Olivia had never been close and never would be. Yet even she was tied to him. Olivia Arellano was the first person he met. She struck up a conversation with him while they waited at campus security for their respective room keys. Fresh off the plane from Caracas, she carried a peeling leather trunk that looked as if it contained human bones and asked him questions like “Do you think the next four years will be estimulante or do you think we will liken them to jail?”

He had no idea what she was talking about but her boobs were up to her neck.

Olivia was a false advertisement for what college women would be like, a false advertisement for herself even. She was studying him, peppering him with questions, not to befriend him but to determine if he was like her, sofisticado. He was not. He had just come from a house with aluminum siding in Sudbury. He didn’t have a passport. His jackets were North Face, his storage bins Bed Bath & Beyond, his mother a Law & Order: SVU fan.

They accepted their respective keys and headed for separate ends of campus. He watched her glide up the gentle slope of a path, one of the many that would become as familiar as the veins on the back of his hand.

Even now, a decade later, he could remember that freshman-specific sensation. Like he’d know this girl for the rest of his life and like he’d never see her again. Turns out both hunches were right. That conversation was the longest he would have with Olivia for a solid year. He saw her, sure. Everyone saw everyone.

But Olivia did her dating off campus, shunning any man who could be accessed via a four-digit extension. She elected alternative housing, slept with professors, refused to eat in the dining hall— 
all before losing the revolt and settling down junior year. Half of their class went abroad but Olivia stayed because she was abroad already. She melded herself into Victor’s circle of friends like a blob of mercury, absorbed by the girls — lady advocates who saw some invisible wound in need of tending when they looked at her. Or maybe they just saw another pretty face to squeeze into their photos.

He didn’t care about their motivations, not really. Olivia Arellano was never the primary object of his affections. That title belonged to someone else. And by their final semester, none of it mattered. By then, Victor was allowing himself to fantasize about Kezia’s face only in profile, never indulging in the dead-on view. By then, he was supposed to have forgiven her for cruelly rejecting his love. Not just forgiven — erased. To forgive was to be in conversation with the past. And they couldn’t have that, now could they? Caps and gowns had been ordered, résumés sent out, mailbox keys returned. It was in poor taste to acknowledge that college had been anything other than a coming-of-age paradise. By then, they all had one foot out the door and Victor had gotten himself a passport with a lone Canadian stamp in the middle. Dead grandfather in Toronto.

Excerpted from The Clasp by Sloane Crosley, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC (www.fsgbooks.com). Copyright © 2015 by Sloane Crosley. All rights reserved. 

 

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About Sloane Crosley '00

The Clasp is the first novel by New York Times bestselling author Sloane Crosley ’00. Called “perfectly, relentlessly funny” by the writer David Sedaris, The Clasp will be published on Oct. 6. Crosley will give the keynote address at the dedication of the renovated Shain Library at Fall Weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 10.




May 17, 2015