How to Drop Out of College

We got a text that an indie show had started up at our favorite DIY venue, so we ditched the “Sonic” idea and ran to the east side. By some precious miracle, all my friends were there. As I wove through the crowd, colliding with familiar faces and outstretched hands, it felt religious, almost — like I was suspended in a state of grace.

I spent the night making promises that I would be back, but I knew, somehow, that it wasn’t true. The 10-year plan was dead; all I could do was make the most of the wake. And so, in a way that was far more cosmic than purposeful, I packed the college experience I might have had into one strange, sweaty, euphoric night. I danced to Pixies songs and sobbed outside the venue for no reason, glitter running down my cheeks. I got engaged, sort of. I felt so lucky to be known.

My friends and I took the bus home, most of them drunk, some of them dragging sexual interlopers back to their grimy dorms. They flitted from front to back, filling the bus with the energy of beautiful people for whom the best and worst was yet to come. I tucked myself into a sticky corner seat and watched, switching on a smile when a phone camera was turned my way, resting my head on the shoulder of someone I no longer know, headphones in, aware, in a rare way, of the feeling of time passing through me. I was listening to “Fairytale of New York,” my favorite Christmas song.

Another precious friend (the only one of us with a car) drove me to the airport at 4 a.m., and I walked into the silent terminal with my passport clutched between my teeth — tugging all my worldly possessions behind me, glitter streaked across my face, lipstick smudged, dress plastered to my body from the rain.

Rayne Fisher-Quann is the writer of the Substack newsletter Internet Princess.