Thursday, July 31, 2003

We leaned over the railing and looked down at the parking lot, Grand Avenue and the desolate, graffitied brick across the way. I told her of my fear of heights, not so much a fear anymore as an unease. When I looked down at the pavement five stories below I felt gravity itself grow unstable, as though I might be loosed from the roof and float over the railing like an inflatable doll. Yet my drink felt heavy in my hand, as though some malicious spirit within it wanted to shoot it down and shatter it magnificently on the tarmac.

One night in my dorm room at UConn I needed to throw out a two-gallon 7-Up bottle full of flat keg beer left over from a party. The open dumpster was directly below the window, four floors down, and Mark and I had been in the habit of throwing garbage into it as though it were our very own enormous trash bin. Food wrappers, empty cans.

I leaned out, aimed as carefully as I could, and heaved the bottle toward the dumpster's maw. It spun a couple of times in the air, gracefully, like an object cast adrift in outer space.

I missed.

The far lip of the dumpster perfectly bisected the turgid bottle, compressed it in a moment as brief as the beat before the big bang and shot it through the first-floor windowpane with stupefying, elastic power. I could only imagine the broken-glass, beer-spewing havoc my missile had wreaked in the study room downstairs.

I walked down the hall to a friend's room and hid out awhile, shaky from adrenaline and guilt like some hit-and-run drunk. No one ever said a word about it, no one was hurt, and there was a new pane of glass in place the following day.