1. You are both broke, which is a hard thing to be in New York City, but being broke doesn’t make her sad. In fact, it seems to actually make her happy. She is a MacGyver of food stealing. “Voila,” she says, when revealing a pair of salt and pepper shakers lifted from McDonalds. “You’re not going to believe this,” she says, as she smacks down a greasy paper sack of free shawarma. She hangs around receptions, asks for stuff, generally snoops, and sometimes people are just so charmed by her that they offer her food for no reason.
2. She has no problem masturbating with you in the room and wants to high five you if she has a particularly good orgasm.
3. Her hair is fucking incredible. Dark, glossy curls. And she does nothing to it — seriously nothing, she barely washes it. Her skin is a glowy tan. Her face itself is plain, her eyes almost disastrously wide-set, and she wears no make-up, but no one cares because she is always grinning. Men shout out nice things to her on the street like, “Keep on smiling girl!” Or “You got angels watching out for you, I can tell!” To you, they yell things like, “I want to fuck you up the ass!” Or the more ambiguous: “I could make you scream.”
4. She makes up little rituals of pleasure for herself. For instance, when she takes a shit, she likes to run the shower on hot to fill your tiny bathroom with steam, and she plays music on her phone’s speaker and chews fruity gum while reading a magazine. A shit is not just a shit, it is a major part of her day and she LOVES it.
5. One day, coming out of the shower completely nude with the towel wrapped around her hair, she points at you with her finger and says, “Never shave your pubes. I did because I was going to Nicaragua and, you know, for ticks? But it grew back in like Astroturf. Don’t listen to all this, shave your pussy, shave your pussy BS. Never shave your pussy. It doesn’t grow back in the same.” You just stare and nod. She is unbelievably beautiful naked. You would never has guessed; she looks just regular in clothes.
6. The Jersey accent. Let’s talk about it. It somehow allows her to move from regular speech into small poetic a-grammatical bursts without it seeming weird or affected. Example: “In this city — angel, devil, Kierkegaard or Kierkegaard’s buttboy — everybody wants a bagel at two in the morning, am I right?” Or: “My mother is one of those sad-eyed, hollowed-out Feminine Mystique bitches, makes me sad as hell — like, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, laundry machine salvation, gonna set me free, set you free, set everybody free — nobody got set free, just got drunk in the empty house in the afternoon looking like flowers that wilted because nothing means anything, right?” At least, you are pretty sure that’s what she said. She talks fast.
7. She eats all your food. She borrows your clothes without asking. She disappears for days with your laptop, which you need to do your homework. But whenever you try to fight with her, she starts yelling, which is not a thing you were allowed to do in your house unless there was fire, but which she is very, very good at. “I know, sweetie,” she says, when she is done yelling at you. “That protestant stick is stuck real tight up your ass and you’re never gonna get it out, I shouldn’t be so hard on you, I know, but you really need to loosen up, okay? You’re goddamn infuriating!”
8. She loves the band Hanson and will play their albums loud, encouraging you not to be ashamed and to just dance.
9. Ultimately, perhaps, the most distressing thing about Alexandra is that, against your will, you are drawn to her. Do you want to have sex with her? Are you gay all of a sudden? Or is it that you want to be her? Though you could never be her, could never even imitate her, for she is inimitable. Being in love with her like this is also, somehow, a way of hating yourself. When summer comes and you move out, you feel a rush of relief, even as you are telling her that you are going to miss her so much. You won’t miss her, even for a second, but you will never forget her and you will tell stories about her for the rest of your life and sometimes, when you are down, you will turn on the shower and put on some Hanson and chew some gum while you take a shit. And you will feel like you have been let in on a great secret, a profound, blasphemous secret. Life is to be enjoyed.