The pub that Javi found was both familiar but completely different from the places Kepa hung out at home. It was full of students from the university as well as a mix of other people. Javi ordered two pints at the bar and led them to a table in the corner, where the crowd noise wasn’t quite so loud.
“I’m not sure how you do it, sitting in one place for hours and hours,” said Kepa as he took a sip of his pint.
Javi laughed. “As opposed to wandering the streets all night? I like that a lot too, but sometimes it’s nice to just find a quiet table and talk over beers. No pressure to finish up and find the next spot.”
“I can see that,” said Kepa. He took another sip. “You know, I really like these IPAs. We don’t get them very often back home.”
Javi shrugged. “They certainly are an acquired taste, but once you get it, it’s hard to drink anything else.”
“So,” continued Kepa with a smile, “tell me about this girlfriend.”
It was Javi’s turn to smile. “Oh, Julie’s great. We met in class and were study partners for a while before I got the courage to ask her out. That was about six months ago or so. Anyways, we’ve been dating ever since. She’s beautiful and smart. And she likes the same kinds of geeky things I do.” Javi took a sip of his own beer. “What about you and Maite? When did that start?”
“Well, it got more intense recently, but we’ve been flirting for a while now.”
“Oh, I remember. In the cuadrilla, you two could barely keep your eyes off of each other. I always figured you’d get together. Man, I always thought she was gorgeous. I always thought, if I knew a bit more Euskara, I could impress her. But, it wasn’t meant to be.” He raised his glass. “I’m happy for you cuz!”
Kepa raised his glass and chinged with Javi’s. “Thanks. You too. I’m glad to see you doing so well.”
Javi shrugged as he put his glass down. “Well, I graduate after this year and I have to figure out what to do next. And Julie is in a completely different field, so I’m not sure how easy it will be for us to stay together.”
“Different field? I thought you met in class?”
“We did, but it was Greek mythology. We were both taking it as a break for our core classes. I’m studying math and her major is history. Not many jobs out there for us with only bachelor’s degrees. So, probably we’ll both end up in grad school, but we have to get into the same school.”
“That’s tough. Maite is thinking of coming out this way for graduate school too. Berkeley. That’s why we’re out here, for her to interview with the professors.”
“Berkeley? Wow, that’s impressive. How did it go?”
Kepa shrugged. “Well, I think. I don’t really know. I don’t understand what she does, some kind of quantum stuff. Being around all of you makes me feel a little… inadequate.”
“Dude!” exclaimed Javi. “You’re with the most beautiful and smartest girl in all of the Basque Country! You are traveling the world! You have an amazing cousin. Your life is good!”
Kepa smiled as he raised his glass for another clink. He paused before taking a sip. “Bai,” he said. “Life is good.”
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