Part Eighteen: Making Friends

Having spent a little while telling you how I ended up making enemies with a man who has only fairly recently disappeared from my life for an extended period of time, it seems only appropriate to tell you about how I became friends with a man who will likely be one of the best friends I could ever hope to have for what remains of my life.

It’s a funny story how I ended up becoming friends with one of the two closest friends I’ve had for more than the past decade. My former guitarist friend had been living in my apartment with me for a while before deciding that he was going to move to Denver in order to take advantage of the opportunities available to him there; he is still living in Colorado to this day, and it appears to have been working out well for him. He hadn’t wanted to break it to me that he was moving out of the apartment, so he was gradually packing his things and preparing for the move while I was asleep or at work. When I did confront him about it, having not been as soundly sleeping as it might have seemed, I understood his reasoning and didn’t begrudge him the chance to leave.

It should be fairly obvious that I was suddenly in need of a roommate without much by way of advance warning…but I had no options as far as friends who needed a place to stay, no matter how much I didn’t want to be stuck paying the full rent, it appeared that I was going to be stuck with that burden. I was drunk one night, though it would be more accurate to state that I was drunk pretty much every night, and I was out having coffee with a couple of friends when I abruptly asked our waiter (someone I had met a few times and gotten along with during those times, a man who had not so long before been brutally attacked by another friend of mine for seemingly little to no reason) if he knew anyone who was looking for a place to live.

I had unintentionally struck while the iron was hot though, because he was himself looking for a new place to live. This was the beginning of a trend for he and I, fortuitous timing and serendipity would indeed abound as it seemed like we were almost always on the same page when there was no good reason why we should be…it’s just one of those situations when you happen to meet the right person, and things just fall into place in the most peculiar way. One arbitrary, drunken inquiry made of a server who was honestly little more than a passing acquaintance to me and I made one of the best friends I will ever have…and suddenly everything was on a wholly new path for me. No, this isn’t one of those stories. I assure you this is not another iteration of Brokeback Mountain, so dispel those thoughts right now you perverse shit…though there have been plenty of people who have since told us that we behave like an old gay couple, that is entirely irrelevant.

This friend somehow had a more difficult time with people in the workplace than I have, which is no small feat to accomplish. It wasn’t long after he moved in (less than a month, if I recall correctly) when he was looking for new employment after being fired from the restaurant where he’d been working when I asked him to move in. A normal person might have taken this as a bad sign, but I couldn’t have conceivably given a shit less. I was enjoying the fact that I had stumbled across someone with the same passions for literature (and even a lot of the same obscure books), music, science, and movies/television that I had. He consumed pop culture and counterculture in about equal measure, just like I did. I sincerely doubt that I could have designed a more compatible roommate for myself if that had been an option for me, though I would have probably just designed me with a vagina if that had been possible…we will ignore the psychological issues that might indicate, and continue on with the story.

He had (and still has) some problems with depression of the clinical and debilitating variety, which did contribute to some of the only issues that I ever had with this particular friend. Retaining employment was literally the sole point of contention I ever really had with him though. He did find another job after being let go from that first one, but that employment ended up being short-lived. This was where his depression seemed to kick in the most, making it difficult for him to find the motivation required to seek new employment, or bother with cleaning up his part of our shared living space. I can’t blame him though, being fired from a job where you are smarter and more highly qualified than the people you work beneath is never an easy thing to swallow, but it is made far worse when you are predisposed to depression.

There was one occasion when this lack of employment actually got under my skin. A mutual friend of ours was staying on the sofa in our living room after a blow out with his girlfriend led to his no longer having a place to stay. This friend brought with him an old Super Nintendo which was getting some use due to sheer nostalgia more than anything. I was walking out the door on my way to work at the local ABC affiliate where I was employed at the time, when my irritation was triggered by seeing my roommate playing video games in the living room while I was on my way to earn a paycheck. I suggested that maybe he could find a job that involved video games somehow. He looked at me curiously and asked, “Really?”

To which I replied, “Sure, because otherwise I fail to see how this is helping you find a fucking job,” and then I walked out the door and went to work. I felt like my father there for a moment again, because that sort of sarcastic, bitter derision in the form of a jest was something I definitely learned from the years of being his son. I can be a caustic prick sometimes, but I like to think that there is still some wit about me even when I’m in an otherwise unpleasant state of mind.

Joblessness aside, I loved having him as a roommate. Our days consisted of watching rerun episodes of News Radio that were being aired back to back a few days every week, discussing (and sometimes outright screaming at one another about) various scientific theories that we’d yet to study in any formal environment but which we studied in our free time simply because we loved that sort of thing, dedicating every Friday evening to the new episodes of Farscape as they were broadcast on SciFi, and just enjoying books, movies, and video games together. It was a good life that we had together, and I was overall quite content with how things were going for the first time in a good while.

This was a man who had no qualms about standing in my open bedroom doorway, reading Green Eggs and Ham out loud while I was having sex with my girlfriend just because he thought it was an amusing way to inform us that he was home and that the noises issuing from the bedroom were a distraction. It could be argued that this was an appropriate payback  for my stripping down to only a pair of boxers and bodily jumping into bed with him in order to deliver a pack of cigarettes that I’d picked up for him while he was sleeping.

It was during this time, while he and I were living together in the apartment that methamphetamine became a bit more than just a recreational part of our lives, but that is a story that needs to be told all by itself.

In total he lived with me for the final three years that I lived in the apartment that had been my home for a grand total of eight years, and those three years were without a doubt the best I had experienced there aside from the very beginning, when my oldest children lived with me while they were still babies.

The funny part is that we ended up living together in two additional locations over the few years or so that followed, and I have always enjoyed those intervals far more than the gaps between or the time since.

There is little to nothing that I could say here, with this whole episodic journey into my life, that he does not already know…as there is likely no one in my life who has known me even half as well as he does. I’ve never been particularly good about making friends or maintaining the friendships that I have, but this is one of two that I know I hope never to live without. I’m entitled to be a bit sentimental at times, so shut up.

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