1. You talk about an “epic” spring break trip for months in advance, a campaign that’s continuously spearheaded by Ben. Ben’s an ambitious planner, but no way he pulls this off.
2. You get an email from Ben sometime in January. Nevermind.
3. You check your bank account, and spend 3 hours doing the same calculations over and over again. You desperately figure out if anyone owes you money. This is gonna be much tougher than you thought.
4. Ben sends a few emails to properly hype up your RV trip down to Mardi Gras. Since it’s 2014, Greg will probably include a meme of Mike Tyson pointing maniacally — today’s premature nostalgia.
5. You spend way too much time figuring out who else from your college is going to Mardi Gras — no spring break trip is complete without traveling halfway across the continent to hook up with someone who’s also from the Philly ‘burbs.
6. Via an instagram of an empty, unpacked bag, you discover that Maddie’s crew is also going. Not the top choice, but a fun group no doubt.
7. You venture up to the RV place to rent an RV. You wonder why the fuck you agreed to go in an RV. There’s no way something doesn’t go wrong.
8. At the RV shack, you watch a Patches O’Houlihan-esque RV safety training video on a 10 inch TV from 1972. You endure the RV dude’s foreboding warnings about what happened the last time he rented out an RV to a bunch of college kids. Gulp.
9. You hit up Target for necessary snacks and supplies. You debate the merits of pita chips and pretzel crisps, and roll your eyes when Ben goes into excruciating detail about the pristine “salt placement” on the pretzel crisps.
10. You drive for 14 hours. You stop at a diner in Knoxville, where you get to rave about the great prices. You continuously flip through radio stations, and hear Darkhorse and Timber 20x each.
11. Finally, you arrive. Your destination is a random house at Tulane — Ben went abroad with some girl named Marnie, who’s letting you shower and hang there so long as you sleep in the RV.
12. As she explains the “deal,” it’s clear that she’s very much a giant Marnie. Greg, therefore, is instantly in love.
13. You get settled in the RV. To get things going, you put on a playlist from your spotify premium (the immense benefits of which you haven’t stopped talking about for weeks.) Dave Matthews seems like a safe, possibly ironic choice.
14. You admire Ben’s underrated charisma as he makes a toast to “a fuckin great time.” You nod, and feel the momentum building.
15. You end up having a decent first night, that’s mostly punctuated by Greg and Ben discussing how “sick the next few days are gonna be.” You realize that when it comes down to it, this is really what most epic trips are — 75% hype up, 12.5% great memories, and 12.5% slight disappointment.
16. You cap off the evening by getting the wildly original late night delicacy that is oversized pizza with ranch dressing. You wolf it down on a picnic table and discuss how crazy it is that in 5 months time, you’re gonna be spending your days telling co-workers in a beige-colored office that your weekend was “good.”
17. You spend the days being half-touristy, half adventurous. You build your Mardi Gras experience in details that you can’t not remember; the single mother dancing with her 7 year-old child, the drill sergeant efficiently getting everyone’s drunken orders at Popeye’s, and the old guy in the New Orleans bookstore who’s devoted his life to preserving the dingy but wonderful space.
18. You spend the nights wearing the different variations of the same plaid shirt, and continuously text with Maddie. After a series of “we’re going to a different bar, but you guys should def meet up! :)” texts, you wonder if she’s trying to make you chase her. After giving it some thought, you hate yourself for thinking that every action she takes is somehow based on you.
19. You get properly prepared for the final evening by going to the Po’boy place that was featured on Man Vs. Food. You go for what that dude at Marnie’s pregame said you should get — half fried oysters, half shrimp.
20. You briefly enter heaven.
21. You head back to Marnie’s. By now you somewhat feel at home. You’ll probably never see most of these people again, but you’re very glad that you’ve experienced this random flash of life with this odd, yet slightly predictable collection of humans.
22. You slowly drift away as Greg engages Marnie yet again, this time discussing their shared love of Ocean City, Maryland and that one restaurant with the really good crabcakes. She gives him a “maybe you’re not that bad after all” smile, and you can’t help but admire Greg’s diligence.
23. Now alone, you stave off existential dread by glancing at your phone. You draft a text to Maddie.
24. Halfway through the first sentence, you abandon ship —
way too much work for something you don’t really care that much about rejection is scary.
25. You instead opt to talk to Mike, some guy who’s part of another crew that’s also using Marnie’s as a “base.” The first night, you realized that he’s really good friends with your cousin — a vintage Jewish Geography connection that gives you two permission to talk to each other when there’s no one else to talk to.
26. You get whisked away by Ben. 90 seconds later, you find yourself in a cab heading to a piano bar in the French quarter.
27. You have a cigarette while waiting outside. You never smoke, but what the hell.
28. You sit down at the piano bar. You’re pretty buzzed and you’ve got well more than a second wind. You flinch majorly when you receive a sudden tap on your shoulder. you turn around and find that —
29. Maddie, Kelsey, Dana, and two other girls you don’t know are sitting right at the table next to you. It looks as if they’ve acquired matching pinnies, which they are wearing over nicer clothes. You’re not sure if this is awesome or terrifying.
30. You spend the next few hours drinking continuously, getting really excited when the dueling pianos play Taylor Swift’s Mean. Luckily, there’s a selfie to commemorate it.
31. You notice that Ben and Dana are talking a bunch. This is very good — it’s been two months since things ended with Lauren, and it finally feels healthy.
32. He’s usually not one for Irish goodbyes, but you notice Greg has disappeared. Nice.
33. It’s getting later and later, but you have no interest in leaving. Eventually, the bar closes. The girls with boyfriends leave. It’s just the four of you that remain.
34. No one’s tired and everyone’s hopped up on drunken adrenaline. You decide to walk around. Maybe it’s just the moment, but you realize these girls are a lot cooler than you ever gave them credit for. As the talk gets weirdly deep, Maddie makes a really interesting point about how friends are so circumstantial — how you’re best friends tonight, but when you get back to college well each retreat back to our usual friend groups — and how that’s part of the inherent beauty.
35. You fully realize this moment is way too good. You didn’t expect this at all. You weren’t really even hoping for it. But holy shit.
36. The four of you openly discuss whether or not you should hookup. It’s by far the most entertaining foreplay that you’ve ever had.
37. (Transition, a-la a 1950s movie that isn’t about to show a sex scene)
38. You wake up enormously hungover. The girls are gone. Greg is still missing. He doesn’t answer your calls.
39. Ben texts Greg, telling him he has an hour before we leave without him. He shows up at minute 58.
40. He evades most questions, but the smile tells it all.
41. The drive home feels about 15x longer than the ride there. But you’re too amped on the night before, and the trip in general, to really let it get to you — you’re not even bothered by the fact that it’s continuing to go down, and that Ke$ha’s continuing to yell Timber.
42. You return the RV. The guy can’t believe it’s there in one piece. You can’t either.
43. A week passes. You’re hanging out at the bar with Ben, passing the time until you’ve gotta face that dreaded, ever looming real-world. You look across the room and notice two familiar faces.
44. You nod, they smile. The silent exchange lasts only a few seconds.