The Wanderings of Amy Ch. 05bycaligula97236©
Chapter 5 - The First Summer
Amy's time throughout the rest of the summer was divided between her classes and Suzanne' photo sessions. Suzanne took Amy all over the Mid-west for photo shoots on weekends and whenever she had a break in her schedule during the week. They hit all of the Great Lakes, and traveled as far as Minnesota to the west and Pennsylvania to the east. Amy saw a huge variety of natural locations during the trips and was amazed at Suzanne's knowledge of the region. There were always side trips to historical locations, and of course, to art museums and galleries. The summer trips opened the world up to Amy in a way she could never have imagined the year before.
It was during the trips in July and August that Amy began to realize how good a friend Suzanne really was. For the first time in her life Amy had found a person she could trust. Unlike Courtney, it would never cross Suzanne's mind to have Amy do something that would risk injury or embarrassment. She would never do anything to exploit Amy for her own pleasure or entertainment. She found it a relief to have a friend who would never dare her to do something just for fun.
Amy knew that Suzanne was genuinely concerned about her well-being. In many ways Suzanne was strict with Amy, but always in ways that benefited her. Amy did well in her classes because of Suzanne. She was in excellent physical shape because of Suzanne. Her finances were in order because of Suzanne. She was neat and well organized because of Suzanne. Amy's character was changing. No longer did she feel that she was out of control and one step away from being back on the street.
Suzanne only turned tyrant during a photo shoot. Even as Suzanne's harsh voice snapped at her from behind her camera, Amy realized it was only because her friend knew what was needed for the photos to be successful. Modeling for Suzanne had become Amy's job, and Suzanne expected top performance. However, as soon as the camera went back into its bag, the Suzanne that Amy loved and trusted was always there for her.
Amy usually enjoyed her time with Suzanne during the modeling sessions. Increasingly she enjoyed the thrill of the air and sun on her body when outdoors, the cool breeze blowing between her legs and on her bottom. It thrilled her to be naked, taking orders, and submitting to her friend's commands. Amy loved the feel of Suzanne's self-assuredness during the shoots. Afterwards it thrilled Amy to see herself in galleries and photo magazines.
Towards the end of the summer Suzanne took a picture of Amy kneeling on a white surface in a studio, wearing a gardening hat and holding a huge bouquet of flowers in front of her. From the angle of the picture it was hard to tell whether Amy was naked or not. This picture became the theme image for a fall gardening festival and appeared in newspapers all over Chicago. So was the pretty model behind the bouquet naked? Only Amy and Suzanne knew for sure.
After several months Amy became as proficient in working with Suzanne's lab equipment as Suzanne herself. Amy's help freed Suzanne from many of the more mundane tasks of her profession. Amy became confident in the darkroom. By the end of the summer she easily could have taken a job at a photo lab. When Amy was not modeling for Suzanne, for example when Suzanne was taking landscape pictures, Amy was there with the cameras, cleaning them, changing lenses and film, taking them out of their cases and putting them away as needed. Suzanne came to rely on Amy as her assistant. Amy felt a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that she had become an important help in Suzanne's life and career, and that her friend relied on her.
Suzanne was as interested in traveling and showing things to Amy as much as she was in taking pictures of her. After a while Amy suspected that Suzanne partly was using the summer photo shoots as an excuse to take trips with a close traveling companion. It dawned on Amy that in reality Suzanne was rather lonely, especially following her last break-up during the sports book photo shoot. Amy did not complain. She did not want to sit at home during the summer. Nor was there any way that Amy was ready to take on another relationship with a boyfriend at that point in her life. She needed to find direction own life first, to determine her own needs before having to worry about meeting someone else's.
Suzanne and Amy never lacked for topics to discuss during their trips, given that their life experiences had been so different up until the time they started living together. Each came from a world so remote to the other that under any other circumstances they would never have become friends. Just a year ago Amy would have dismissed Suzanne as an art nerd, and Suzanne would have seen nothing but a shallow party girl in Amy. However, they had entered each other's lives in such a way that they could take an interest in each other. Whenever one of them talked about herself and her past, the other always learned something new, not about just her friend, but about life in general.
During their travels it was inevitable that Suzanne and Amy would talk about their relationships with guys. Neither had much experience with stable relationships, but for totally different reasons.
Suzanne's reasons for not having had a stable relationship differed now than they did when she was in high school. In high school she had largely kept to herself due to problems she was having at home. She hinted to Amy that she had serious problems with her father while in school, but did not tell her what those problems had been. She did tell Amy that the few times she dated in high school she had gone to great lengths to not let her father know about it.
Suzanne had another problem in high school that kept her alone. Her personality was too serious for most of her classmates to be interested in her. At an early age she became interested in photography. As Amy was well aware from her numerous trips with her friend and the countless hours spent in the photo lab, pointing the camera was only a small part of being a photographer. Suzanne took her work as the high school year photographer way too seriously. The commitment that Suzanne's photos demanded prevented her from doing much else during her free time. The result of Suzanne's dedication was a yearbook that received commendations for three years. However, the other result was that everyone thought of Suzanne as "the school photographer" instead of thinking of Suzanne as a human being with emotional needs and a desire for companionship.
Suzanne's solitude fed upon itself. Her pursuits were quiet ones. She listened to instrumental music and became hooked on New Age and classical. She could not stand the rap and heavy metal that her classmates enjoyed. Sports, cheerleading, and other school activities did not interest her, unless there was an opportunity to take pictures. She retreated into her studies, invariably doing well in all her classes and being liked by her teachers. She never caused any problems in school, never raised her voice, never drank or smoked. The only movies she was interested in were foreign ones. She turned her nose up at the Hollywood pop culture that so captivated everyone else her age.
In high school Suzanne only had one serious boyfriend, during the second half of her junior year. He was a member of the marching band, and shared Suzanne's interest in music. He did not find it strange that Suzanne did not want her father to know about him, because he did not get along with his parents either. For the first time in her life Suzanne was able to open up to another person.
Suzanne's brief interlude of happiness only lasted about 5 months. Her boyfriend was a senior. He graduated, and not knowing what to do with his life, went in the Army. He chose a specialty that required a lengthy stint of hard training in Ft Benning, Georgia, following completion of basic training. After six months of training his unit was mobilized, and he departed immediately overseas. Suzanne did not see him after that. Suzanne spent her entire senior year writing him and waiting for him to come back. He never did. Right after Suzanne graduated from high school, she learned that he had been killed overseas in a training accident. In spite of the loss, Suzanne moved on in her life. She already had endured many unpleasant experiences and her boyfriend's death was just one more.
Suzanne's time in college was not much happier as far as personal relationships were concerned. She entered the university thinking that, being with other art majors, she would have an easy time finding someone who shared her interests. Most certainly she did, mixing with other students who also, for the most part, had not fit in their high schools. What Suzanne had not anticipated was how self-centered most of her art classmates were. Suzanne quickly became sick of her peers who thought they were the next Van Gogh or the next Mapplethorpe, when it was obvious their talent was mediocre at best. If there was one thing Suzanne could not stand, it was a person on an ego trip.
Suzanne's first boyfriend in college gave her a rude shock. A few weeks after they started going out he started asking her for loans. Suzanne had no money herself and her boyfriend knew that. Still, he insisted and finally she gave him what little she had to live on that week. Within days he started demanding more.
Suzanne had nothing more to give him. She was wondering herself where she would get enough to pay her food for the rest of the week. She lost her temper and broke off the relationship. For several months afterwards her ex-boyfriend stalked her, until finally she obtained a restraining order.
Unlike Amy, Suzanne was the sort of person who quickly learned from her mistakes. She learned to quickly size up potential partners, looking for signs of financial dependency, unrealistic expectations from life, and abusive personalities. She learned, the hard way, that finding a reliable partner in the art department would be much more difficult than she had anticipated upon entering college.
Amy's reason for never having a stable relationship came down to a single word, Courtney.
At this point in her life Amy still adamantly defended Courtney. However, Suzanne picked up enough hints in her conversations with Amy to indicate that Amy was starting to recognize some of Courtney's faults. Suzanne did not like Courtney from Amy's description of her. However, Suzanne said nothing to Amy about her opinions about Courtney, wanting to give Amy time to question her past at her own pace. Amy was just beginning to realize that perhaps Courtney had not been such a great influence in her life. She was not ready to admit that out loud, not to Suzanne or to anyone else.
Deep down inside Amy realized that Courtney had bullied her mercilessly in school through peer pressure and by convincing Amy that only what Courtney approved of could be considered "cool". Amy began to realize that there had been many lost opportunities during her high school years due to Courtney's influence over her. This was especially true when it came to boyfriends. It was true with everything else in Amy's life as well, her classes, her relationship with her father, even her health.
Amy met Courtney in middle school the year that her mother died from cancer. Amy needed someone to look up to at the time and saw that in her classmate. Courtney seemed so self-confident, so arrogant to the guys, so sure that she knew how to be cool. Courtney had a comeback for anything anyone said to her. Amy loved the fact that no one could insult Courtney without receiving a sarcastic response that made everyone listening squirm. Some of Amy's teachers seemed almost afraid of her new friend. Amy stuck with Courtney, first out of insecurity, then out of not knowing anything else. Amy learned to talk with the same sarcastic in-your-face manner as Courtney, learned to use the same come-backs whenever anyone tried to insult her, learned to dress to draw guys' attention to her adolescent body.
Courtney loved living on the edge. She was what some people would call an adrenaline junkie, long before she became a junkie of much more dangerous substances. Courtney drank heavily. Later in high school she loved drag-racing. She tried anything at parties being passed around. Any new substance she immediately pressed on Amy, which was part of the reason why at first Amy was so surprised that Courtney would not let her try heroin.
Throughout high school the last thing Courtney wanted was calm in her life. She was impatient and became bored very easily. She was repelled by safe, stable guys. She gravitated towards the ones who led to trouble and saw to it that Amy did the same.
As her 18th birthday approached, Courtney realized that the final restraint on her having fun as she defined it was about to come to an end. Upon turning 18 she could take off and do whatever she wanted. All she needed was money, and during her final month in high school she plotted how to finance her upcoming road-trip from her mother's bank account. By the time they left, Amy was so conditioned to doing anything Courtney described as "fun" or "cool" that the idea of not taking off with her friend never crossed her mind.
Amy and Suzanne had dinner with Robert several times over the summer. Suzanne seemed to trust Robert for legal advice and always showed him any contract she needed to sign. Robert spent hours with Suzanne and gave her hundreds of dollars worth of legal advice for free. Amy reflected that it seemed strange that Suzanne went to Robert for advice when Suzanne's own father was a lawyer and just as competent at reviewing contracts.
It was clear that Robert liked Suzanne. He seemed to enjoy talking to her. At first most of their conversation concentrated on how to study contracts to tell the difference between a good contract and a bad one. Suzanne had to tell Robert quite a bit about her work to give Robert an idea about her legal needs. Robert increasingly seemed to take interest in Suzanne's photography and her life in general as the summer ended and the fall semester started.
Every so often Amy noticed Robert looking at Suzanne with a longing in his expression. It was true that Suzanne had a sexiness about her, that she was mature for her age, and had a quiet, dignified manner of carrying herself. It was true that Robert had now gone a year alone since Tricia had died. However it was also true that Robert and Suzanne had absolutely nothing in common. Amy realized that nothing could ever come of Robert's thoughts about Suzanne, whatever they happened to be. Even so, Amy was jealous that Robert was looking at Suzanne instead of at her.
Robert was pleased about the influence that Suzanne had on Amy's life. He was hugely relieved at the thought of no longer having to act as a surrogate parent to a girl who had a crush on him. Being Amy's roommate, Suzanne had taken over that role.
Amy felt much more relaxed as she started the fall semester. She no longer felt so tense about doing well in her classes. She started relaxing more and more. Although Suzanne was every bit as adamant about forcing Amy out of the apartment in time to make her classes as she had been during the spring, she could not stand over Amy and force her to keep track of her assignments. As the fall semester progressed Amy started to let her guard down. By the end of October Amy's attitude would land her into serious trouble with one of her professors.