Well this has been an eventful week! Last Friday I joined the top 39% of American citizens by acquiring a college degree. Although around these parts it’s considered a “what the fuck you going to do with that?” type of degree, I still graduated college. And wowsers, I sure did like college.
While receiving my college education I was introduced to binge drinking, marijuana cigarettes, stealing, I learned how to operate an internet system, and I lost my virginity.
I vividly remember the night that Radar and Birddawg forced me to get drunk for the first time. It was a Wednesday and I had stopped by their apartment to pick up a book from Furniture class that I had let their roommate Laser borrow. As soon as I walked through the door their apartment hit my face with a stink of incense and ramen noodles. Radar and Birddawg were unable to talk because they were coughing so hard and then Laser vomited on the floor while handing me a bottle of Night Train Express citrus wine. He told me that it tasted like fruit and that everybody was drinking it.
“But I don’t even turn thirty-one until this summer”, I said.
“You either open that bottle and turn it upside-down or you can open that door and upside-outside you ditzy bitch”, said Laser.
“That doesn’t make any sense”, I said.
Then Birddawg held a spatula to my throat in a threatening manner while baby bottling the entire bottle of Night Train down my throat. Apparently I turn into a slut when I’m drunk because I woke up with full makeup on my face and somebody had written “Insert Here” across my top lip and I had a tramp stamp above my ass crack that read, “Coal Train Entrance”. Radar had to explain to me what that meant and I was not proud of it after I found out.
Oh, and to anyone in their early to mid thirties that are still looking for that special person to lose their virginity to, just pick someone and get it over with. The first time is such a let down and vaginas are really weird and a little off-putting at first glance and sniff.
The biggest thing on my mind today though is a childhood friend, Heather Erickson. I’ve known her since Kindergarten or pretty much as long as I can remember. We were never best friends or anything despite being in many classes together from ages 5 to 18, and at one time we may have been silent enemies because she could always kick my ass at basketball, but we always talked to each other and did all the things that little kids do. Once we entered “adulthood” and bumped into each other at the bar or the gym we’d always be happy to see each other and play catch-up. That’s how childhood friends are; when you no longer see one another on a regular basis, not because one of you did something to ruin the relationship, but just because you separated in the natural drift of life. And when you randomly bump into each other later in life there are no hard feelings for not staying in touch and it’s easy to start up and maintain a conversation about what you’ve missed in their life. Whenever I saw Heather at the YMCA we’d go back and forth about our vast knowledge of fitness and my mental library of supplements and the world of meat-headery, and then we’d go our separate ways.
The most significant thing that I remember about my childhood with Heather was that in my three decades of talking shit and delivering insults, she was the first person that I apologized to out of guilt. It was either Kindergarten or first grade, but I pushed her off the side of the slide that had these two fireman poles on each side. She was trying to slide down one of them and I pushed her, causing her to fall and hurt her leg. She didn’t rat me out like most of the nerdy cowards that I picked on before they grew taller than me, but I always talked to her in school and I felt bad about it, so I later told her that I was sorry. I wasn’t forced to say sorry by an adult or because I feared that I would get in trouble, I told her that I was sorry because I genuinely felt bad about hurting her. That’s rare because I have trouble saying sorry.
Heather died of cancer this morning and I have been thinking about her all day. I haven’t talked to her since last summer and I don’t even remember what the conversation was about. I knew of her fight with cancer and we had skimmed the surface of it in conversations, but nothing too deep. I’ve spent the entire day moping around my poopy basement apartment and even crying a few times, due to my thoughts of her being gone and the reminder of my own mortality and the lives of other friends. It’s an odd coincidence for this to happen right after I finally finished college and have to throw myself back out into the rat race. Life is the strangest thing, you learn how to pick your own battles but sometimes the battle picks you.
I’m sorry Heather, and I hope there are better playgrounds where you are now.