I can’t recall the exact year now, but it was most certainly once I turned eighteen and had accomplished getting my license without taking drivers ed. It was winter in New England and I didn’t have the appropriate tires or vehicle for the weather. I was driving to Dunbarton to see a friend, pick her up and then like a bus, stop and pick up Gina. I was scared. The streets were covered in snow, slush, and whatever the fuck else. I had quickly learned that I did not like driving in the winter. And I disliked driving in Dunbarton in the winter even more. My car slid with ease and intimidated me with its movements the entire drive. I wanted to be sick. It wasn’t worth it.
I’m a terribly anxious person. Driving is nerve wracking, flying makes me panic, I cling to anything sturdy when on a boat, I walk fast anywhere if I’m doing so at night, being in the woods alone makes me feel cripplingly small, sleeping in a place that is not familiar keeps me from dreaming, I’m thinking constantly about what people think of me, I’m always convinced I’m ill with something. I worry about everything. Always. Constantly.
In my car, on some back road, I began to shake. I trembled and fought the prevalent image in my head. The one where I drive off the road and die in a ditch, an ignorant girl that learned very little (like how to control her own vehicle in different weather) while she was alive. I was convinced I was going to die. I thought about turning around but given the point I was at, it made more sense to just keep moving forward to the middle destination. If nothing else I could stall there until the roads cleared. Or, just never leave.
I reached for the knob that would control the volume of my stereo and turned up Blink 182’s Going Away to College. I lit a cigarette, cracked the window, and then I turned the song up even louder. The snow came down and the road got slicker. I felt my vision tunnel and all I saw was what was laid out in front of me. And because I thought I was going to die, because Going Away to College was on, because I was in love with my best friend- I decided if I lived through my adventure that I would tell him as much.
Thanks Mark, Tom, and Travis. Thanks snow, thanks winter, thanks shitty Nissan altima. Thank you for scaring me into making such a silly promise to myself. If it weren’t for any of you, I would have never told my best friend that I was in love with him. I would have either never learned or taken longer to learn how to love myself without his help. I would have never known what a friendship is supposed to be. What works for me, anyway. Things would have been different.
A handful of weeks later I was sitting in the gas station cubicle of my shitty first job. I was typing Matthew what I thought was the deepest, most vulnerable text I had ever sent. I was telling my best friend that I loved him through a text message. (Don’t worry I hate younger me also.) His reply, though the sweetest, most loving response, was a let down then. And though he couldn’t be with me the way I thought I wanted him to- he showed me so much more by sticking around after all awkward texts were aside.
Matt was the first person I ever loved besides my family, a different love. And he took that love and accepted it. Nurtured it and showed me that we didn’t need to be together. That even though we wouldn’t work out that way, that he could still love me unconditionally and he has. I’m confident he always will. For that reason I feel like I’m able to now as well. I have so, so much love in me and I don’t believe I ever would have found it if not for him.
One time, when I had more friends, I was hanging out at someones apartment. I had the largest, grossest, most horrendous crush on my friend Dylan and he was going to be there. I convinced him to come hang out for a while even though he didn’t really like a third of the people that would be there. I felt accomplished. I thought he was showing up for me. How exciting. In reality though, and I’m okay with it now, he was showing up because one of my female friends had offered to bone him. At least that’s what I’ve been lead to believe for years now. Whatever the reason was, it doesn’t even matter. Nothing but the end of this night matters actually. But we’ll get there.
I drank a lot. I don’t know how much but those days I was drinking to not feel. Not feel feelings, not feel pain, not feel my face. When my lips went numb I knew I was headed in the right direction. Or the right, wrong direction. However you’d like to say it. That’s about where I liked to hang out. If I could bite my lip and draw blood without pain it thrilled me. I was pleased with myself. This specific night I was jello legged before Dylan made his appearance which meant I was also emotional beyond belief. What else is new? I shouldn’t drink, ever.
At some point I found out what was going on. Someone had promised Dylan that if he hung out longer that they would totally, honestly have sex with him before the evening was through. I hated everything. Then to top it off another friend informed me he had tried hooking up with the other two girls there via text recently. I remember that making me even more sad because I wasn’t upset with her for wanting to bone him. I was upset because I wasn’t going to be cuddled by Dylan for shit sure. And if things went accordingly, I wouldn’t be cuddling up to her tonight either. Which was a double bummer.
Matt showed up at some point. I don’t recall when or what he was informed of. I don’t know if I told him or if my nosey informant had. Forever the one to tell everyone everything. Either way, matt somehow knew what I needed because we cuddled and crashed on the wooden floor of the apartments barren living room.
In the morning we cleaned our cars of the snow. I called out of work and we met up again later after removing more snow from driveways and showering. I don’t remember ever speaking of that night really after the fact. At least not immediately. Years later maybe, in a joking manner. But no thank yous were presented, no questions asked soon after the event. My interest in Dylan faded and my friendship with Matthew became stronger.
On to a lighter, less tarnished moment to finish us off here. I’m sure over the course of the next few days. Weeks. Months. Whatever, I’ll be sharing more Matthew stories as they’re coming to me at full speed. But I’m done for today after this last one.
When I was twenty(?) I got my septum pierced. I had been contemplating it for quite some time and had finally decided to go through with it. I brought Matthew and some chick I was friends with at the time with me because I clearly can’t do anything alone. That and I loved bringing matt everywhere with me at this point. Always. At any given chance, no matter where I went.
I remember being relatively nervous because I had heard it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I mean, getting a needle shoved through any part of you isn’t necessarily a blast. Not for me anyway. I tried to keep my cool because Zippy was running the needle through me and I had known him since I was something stupid, like nine. Plus matt was there and for some reason I still wanted to appear as cool as he thought I was.
I was laying down on the table, staring at matt as he stared back. He tried holding my hand and Zippy asked him not to. Him and the girl were asked to stand beyond the threshold of the doorway as to not get in the way. I felt like I was being prepped for surgery. Matthew looked on as the needle was brought to my septum and I closed my eyes. Totally pussing out and not watching the process to the best of my ability.
My eyes watered profusely due to the nerves in that area. I remember the waterfall out of the corner of each socket, pouring heavily down the sides of my face. When I sat up there was a ring in my nose and a smile on my best friends face. He squeezed my hand and the process of tipping the piercer occurred before we scurried back to the car.
The girl might as well have not been there. In my memories she could have been anyone because nothing mattered besides the curiosity and worry that swirled in matt’s brown eyeballs. It fucking ruled being able to bring someone somewhere and show them things. Specifically places and things that I took for granted, having been around them my whole life. I remember thinking about how different we were and I couldn’t recall another friend so eager to listen and experience the things and places I enjoyed.
I remember he said he loved it and I just thought to myself, nothing anyone says matters now. As long as my parents don’t murder me when I get home, nothing anyone else says will ever matter.