Tonight Chris and I were loading up some stuff to go to Wickenburg. We’re officially moving next month, but the process has begun.
I found a binder I carried around my senior year of high school. I guess that counts as an artifact I found, since the binders and its contents originated 20-21 years ago.
I opened it and a lot of post-high school papers were in it: A Process Essay I wrote in English 101 at Mesa Community College, along with some spiritual thoughts and other hand-outs. Some were from when I was still in high school, but most were after the fact.
It involved his college DJ experience and if I remember correctly (this was 21 years ago, so I may not remember correctly, despite the rumored good memory that my family members will insist I have), it had to do with him playing Dennis Leary’s “A$$hole Song…” and some heat he took for it as a student at the Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened, since years and years have passed and that particular letter wasn’t there, but I remember laughing pretty hard at the time I originally read it.
And when I did see him and have dinner at his house with him and his wife some 8 years ago, I did bring it up and we laughed again.
Reading the letters from Fall 1993 and Spring 1994, and then realizing it had been 8 years since I had seen him and his family (even though they don’t live too far away…well, for the next month at least they don't - and we do exchange Christmas cards), I kicked myself for not keeping better touch with him back then and since we saw them last, as a good friend should have.
Just some fun excerpts from his two letters that were in the binder:
“I think I can probably give you a big enough topic to write on by simply saying ‘How are you doing?” If anyone can write a novel on that question, it’s you. That’s not an insult in any way, shape of form, and I’d really like to know"
“We can’t go into town regularly since the nearest town big enough to a Wallyworld is 45 minutes away from the hill (the college). There is a girls’ boarding school about a half hour away, but that’s a high school, so they’re jail bait”
“I did manage to pick up some useful bits of information which I have been organizing into a travelers guide to Southern Indiana: 1) Don’t yell “redneck” at a turkey shoot with men drinking beer and carrying guns. 2)If you do, don’t run for the police. They’re rednecks too. 3)If you want to sound like a native, don’t pronounce vowels. Louisville is pronounce Llvl. 4) Everyone is helpful, but no one knows anything. If you want directions, ask ten people and follow the directions you hear most often. You can read the rest when it’s published."
(Regarding coming home for Christmas 1993) “I loved seeing how everyone has changed. The lousy part was that I was only home for four days. It’s not that I hate my relatives in California. But do you know what it is like to go to New Year’s party and not having anyone under the age of 50 to kiss? You can express your deepest sympathy when you write to me.”
“Well, as usual, I won’t ask questions because, as a writer and a woman, you will have plenty to tell me about Christmas, life, and the state of the world.”
There’s plenty more that are gems, but out of respect for him and not wanting to further incriminate the reality of the 1993-94 version of myself that those snippets may allude to, I’ll leave it at that.
Well, he’ll hate me for this (but I haven’t used his name, so it’s not like I’m being too direct with sharing this story...), but I still laugh at a time during our senior year of high school where we’re coming out of a restaurant and he banged his leg/shin or foot on something in the parking lot. I was no stranger to hearing colorful language emerge from his lips, so it was hilarious that instead of a slew of profanities such an injury would surely provoke, we all instead heard (as he was hopping up and down, mind you), “Oh….oh cuss!.... Cuss Mother!”
I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. But I was telling the story to Mikelle when she saw me reading the letters, and I laughed all over again. As did she.
Damn. Nostalgia can really suck. Regret for not being a better friend sucks. Looking back and seeing how much time has passed sucks. But while all that is sucky, I am smiling at the memories and the fact that those friendships existed and can still exist. It just takes more effort. My goal is to get together with him, or the four of us as couples, before we move next month. And even if that doesn't work out (because people around here generally like to leave the scorching heat this time of year to nicer locales), it doesn't mean we still can't. It just means more driving to make it possible. I accept the challenge.
As I wrote in his yearbook at the end of our senior year: "'Cuss Mother’ lives on!"
And we do. Time just needs to slow down.