Arts & Culturethe athens of georgia

Chapter 9: Not Really Looking to Fall in Love or Whatever

Genevieve would never have expected to still be hanging out with Caspian Quinn so much four months after they met. Not that they were officially dating. Her assumption that they were only hooking up was part of the reason she’d kept texting with Casey all summer about all the things they were going to do when he moved to Athens (though, of course, deep down she hadn’t really believed he’d come, and she partly wished he hadn’t).

Before she met Caspian she hadn’t even liked his music that much. It just seemed like the wordy whinings of another white guy, like something her dad would listen to on 97.1 The River. When Casey made her listen to The Joy of Sects it had just bored her. All the songs were about failed relationships and what a jerk he was to women, apart from a few about his tortured feelings about male authority figures such as his stepfather and God or about his vacillations between arrogance and self-loathing. “It’s so self-indulgent,” she’d told Casey, who was disappointed, since it was his current favorite album.

But then in June, her friend Jake invited her to the after-party when Ham Rove opened at the 40 Watt for Artemis March, and all the members of Waning Gibbous—Caspian, Bob and Asher—were there. Everyone was excited because it had been a great show, and all the younger people who came with Ham Rove were trying to act blasé about being at Althea Edison’s super-nice house and hanging out with so many local luminaries. Genevieve was wearing her favorite red dress from Goodwill and was dancing in the living room with her shoes off to the Talking Heads, and Caspian started dancing next to her.

He definitely wasn’t her type physically; he was so tall and skinny and odd-looking. When her friends had talked about how hot he was, she couldn’t understand it at all. “He looks like Lurch,” she’d said. But now, watching him from the corner of her eye while he danced, she could see why people thought he was cool. His moves were funny, but he was obviously enjoying himself as he strutted and twirled. She was a little drunk by that point and was thinking about how her hippie neighbor in college was always talking about people’s “auras.” He caught her looking at him and laughed, and then grabbed her hand and spun her under his arm.

“Do you live in Athens?” he asked her when the song was done. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around before.” He pulled a bandana from his back pocket and mopped the sweat from his forehead.

“I just moved back here from Chicago,” she told him. He was over a foot taller than her, and she had to crane her neck to look in his eyes.

“Very interesting,” he said, bending his face closer to hers. His long hair brushed her cheek. A new song started and he started shuffling from side to side again. “What brought you back?” he shouted over the music. While they danced she told him about Midnight Jesus and about her friend’s show at Flicker she was playing at the next week. She told him she played the drums.

“Are you any good?” he asked.

“Pretty good,” she said.

“I’m Caspian, by the way,” he said when that song ended. As if anyone there didn’t know. He put out his hand to shake and when she took it he held her hand for an extra moment. She could feel her friends gawking at them from the other side of the room and felt herself flush a little. She almost thought for a second that he was going to kiss her.


Photo Credit: Kelly Hart

Soon after that he disappeared, and so she was shocked that Wednesday when she looked out at the very small crowd in Flicker and saw him standing near the back, nodding along to the music. She almost dropped a drumstick. He grinned at her and gave a little wave and thumbs-up. After the show he asked for her number, and he called her the very next day to ask her out. They browsed records at Wuxtry and he bought her a copy of his favorite graphic novel, Blankets. She felt people she didn’t know staring at her.

Even though he was nine years older than her and even though they didn’t like any of the same music, he was surprisingly funny and easy to talk to. They hardly stopped laughing the whole night, from dinner and drinks until he walked her home. He called her again the next day and the day after that.

She still didn’t expect anything to come of it, since a guy like him obviously had plenty of groupies. Based on how good he was at sex, he obviously had a lot of experience. And he was so melodramatic about how terrible his past relationships had been. (He’d written an entire album about one of them, after all.) “Just to let you know,” he’d informed her, apropos of nothing, after they’d been seeing each other for two weeks, “I’m not really looking to fall in love or whatever. My music really is my life, and I’m on the road half the year. I just don’t have much left over to give anyone.”

“Good,” she’d said. “I’m not either.”

She really wasn’t. Midnight Jesus was practicing a lot, and she had a job by then and was talking with Casey all the time. If she was going to be in love with anyone, she assumed it would be with him. Not with some pretentious singer-songwriter who was constantly taking his emotional temperature in his journal in case he could get a song out of it and who met with his therapist, Henry, every two weeks via Skype. (Even though he was actually pretty nice otherwise and was giving her guitar lessons for free.)

But by the middle of July, when he was getting ready to go to New York for three weeks, they were still together nearly every day, and Bob and Asher were starting to look at her funny when she was out with them, wondering what she was doing still around. She insisted to her own friends that she and Caspian weren’t a couple and that she didn’t want anyone gossiping about them, even though she was practically living at his house. “We’re just really good friends. Anyway, he’s way too old for me.”

“Do you want to come with me to New York?” he asked her one sunny morning. He’d been out for a walk already and had brought her an iced coffee and a chocolate donut, which he set on the bedside table before sitting next to her on the bed and gently nudging her awake. He clutched his banjo in his left hand and spun it around on the floor while he spoke. “I’d pay for your plane ticket if you needed me to.”

“Seriously?” she asked.

“I mean it. I’ll be in meetings and rehearsals a lot of the time, but we’d still have time to hang out. You could see your friends during the day or go to the museums or whatever.” He touched her face.

“I’d have to find someone to cover my shifts, but a lot of people want more hours, so I probably could.”

“Yeah, ask them. It will be great.”

“You don’t care what people will think?”

“Screw them. We don’t have to tell them anything.”

She sat up in bed. “I would absolutely love to go to New York.”

“Excellent,” he said. “Then it’s set.”