Friday, August 13, 2010

The Heartache of Friends & The Evenings That Come

In a strange, bogus turn of events, a friend of mine was broken up with by his girlfriend in the form of a letter somewhat out of nowhere. I guess the story goes that she kissed him, handed him the three pages and said, "All I have to say is in this letter." Now, I find this surprisingly cinematic scene peculiar for several reasons, but it mostly has to do with the two of them being together for nearly five years and we're all in our mid-goddamn-twenties. Also, it was written in green ink. It was like some epic mistake on behalf of the space-time continuum. Her break-up style seemed closer to "we've been dating for three weeks in tenth grade and I just realized that I don't understand my hormones" than being "ok, seriously, we're fucking adults now."

What made it seem all the more intriguing is that the friend was one of my closest in high school, and we even stayed close some time in college. But, like many good things (including that clich├ęd phrasing), it didn't stay that way. We've grown apart, though when we do see each other, it's like no time has passed and I feel as if I'm walking in a dream. With my high school friends, any amount of time can pass and I still feel and act like I just saw them last week.

And that's the wildest thing about nostalgia: it seems so recognizable after an astonishing amount of time has passed. You can move through it like the mist of autumn evening chills and you're at a destination soon enough with a hazy feeling of familiarity and wonder.

It's been a long time since this friend has counted on me too, but, sure enough, we found ourselves sitting on the floor of my bedroom talking about girls, just like high school. The similarities of then and now were noticeable and quaint while the differences ranged from my room having more books to both of us being much calmer and more reasonable men (probably...hopefully). Later, the third member of our high school trio showed up and it felt laughably remarkable to find ourselves back where the misadventure of maturity started. Or it was one of the places in the very least.

To keep with the high school sudden reawakening of break-up, as well as our mini-reunion, we revisited high school as best as we could, looking through old pictures and retelling stories. Wanting to get out and do something (as aimless faux teenager twentysomethings do, I guess), we went to the driving range to smoke cigarettes, talk about women in disgusting honesty and hit golf balls into the water. We stayed past closing and the owner turned the lights off, but he didn't come for us. So, the three of us stayed there, cackling in the darkness, whacking our bucket of balls into the unknown (it just sounds better to be ominous sometimes).

Soon, we found ourselves at Del Taco and, out of a ploy for one more string pull of nostalgia, I ordered what I always got in high school when I had the metabolism of a racehorse on speed pills. This included a macho Cherry Coke, which, for the record, is like fucking poison to an adult body. I have no idea how I drank those daily. I could've eaten entire tubs of ice cream and been better off. Jesus Christ, I really wanted diabetes or something back then.

Then we arrived at the top level of our preferred parking garage and stared over the flattish city of Orange with what can only be described as a dismal skyline on its best of nights. But city lights remain the stars of the earth and they're spectacular, even if they don't rise too high for the occasion. Security came and asked us to leave, just like old times, and I missed spending many of my most aimless evenings sitting at the top of a six story parking garage in an area that is a coy, weak attempt at a downtown. On our way home, we sat in the downtown plaza and watched young drinkers stroll and stumble from bar to bar, all wondering when the quality of women improved. I suppose that's what guys do, especially when one of them is down on their luck and heart.

In fact, I’m not sure what the two of us friends planned on doing for our downtrodden chum. But I suppose we went with the ever classic plan of laughing and reminiscing about the old times, even reliving them in some instances, just to remind the quietest guy of the group that it wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t always complicated. It wasn’t always one long seizure of adulthood. There were times when things could be categorized and nothing could be compartmentalized. Your heart was just one big Jackson Pollack painting where you could pick out the colors but not the actual picture or theme.

We came to the agreement that adulthood isn’t bad. It’s most certainly not. But it’s just fun to leave home sometimes.

They dropped me off and I made the age-old suggestion of not letting months go by. It was around midnight, but I couldn’t go to bed, as I couldn’t shake off the weariness of time travel just yet. So, instead, I watched Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam with my brother and wondered if Humphrey Bogart knew something about women that has totally escaped mankind since (aside from the slapping and shooting, of course).

And, finally, keeping with the teenage vibes, I made sure everything seemed more important than it actually was in this reflection. I mean, shit, all we really did was hang out, hit golf balls, eat fast food and drive around. But, for whatever reasons left to the crusading sense of insanity that fills teenagers everywhere, everything seemed important once. I hardly see my friends from high school, so it's always this strange feeling that stirs up. Maybe it's just that and that's all it is. We're all different but kind of still the same now (variations, I suppose) and it's just weird to find yourself churning up the old times to make a friend feel better. Shrug. Things don't seem as important to me now, but it's nice to find worth in it all and look back like those memories were meant to be overvalued. Christ, the hearts of teenagers are like sneaky auctioneers. They just really know how to drive up the price, you know?

It makes you smile and wince at the same time, I guess. And, sometimes, the unfortunate events of the heart and soul bring about a lovely laughter all the way to bed.


Jacquelyn Rachel Jones said...

i really liked this post, and i really really enjoyed this line: "it felt laughably remarkable to find ourselves back where the misadventure of maturity started."

jason daniel said...

Kudos, sir. Well done. I have the same relationship with some of my childhood friends.

Although this made me realize that you've told them the same lies you've told me about not letting months go by in between hang out sessions.

Just kidding, my friend. Your random hangout night brought back some memories of what bored kids do. The simplicity in those moments are special. Ah, Duluth, how I miss you.

It was nice you did that for your friend.

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