Get your mind out of the gutter! This is not a funny post, but a reflective one. If you’re looking for a more humorous read, click HERE.
This post is dedicated to one of my best friends, let’s call him “Jack.” I met Jack through a boy who auditioned to be in the one-act play I was directing for Fine Arts Week back in high school. The boy was cute so I cast him in my play and started hanging out with him and his equally attractive twin brother. At some point, the twins came over to my dad’s house when he wasn’t home to take advantage of his full bar, and they brought Jack with them. He was tall, handsome, and soft-spoken, albeit a trouble maker… and we began spending a lot of time together.
Jack worked at a movie theater so we went to a lot of movies, drove around in my old Nissan Altima listening to music, or drank at whichever of our parent’s houses were vacant. This was also around the time that I was trying to figure out which college to go to. I was freaking out and being self-destructive; drinking, smoking a lot of pot, and collecting pocket knives because I thought I was a real bad-ass. I got my eyebrow pierced, which Jack was there for, and I think he was there when I got my first tattoo. I skipped school a lot, would drive over to the other high school (where Jack was a junior), pick him up and we would hang out in a nearby park together, drinking Captain Morgan’s and watching Indians play cricket. He was having some issues with his parents, culminating in them calling the police to have him arrested for “stealing” their car. Eventually he moved out of his house and in with the twins. Once, while Jack and I were lurking around our favorite park at night, he swiped one of my knives and went crazy on a gigantic event tent that was set up for the next day. We burned matching marks into our wrists with cigarettes, and experimented with drugs. The first time I ever did mushrooms was with Jack in his parent’s basement. I don’t remember much about it, other than him taking every cigarette out of his pack and lighting them in one big log, then passing out and burning his shirt. Such rebels.
I think it was around this time that we slept together. It only happened a handful of times throughout our friendship, it was always pretty impersonal, and we never ever talked about it. I loved Jack in a way I can’t explain. I never thought of him as a boyfriend or even someone I was casually dating, because we never were. To me, we had a stronger bond than that. It was unspoken– Jack didn’t talk about about his feelings for me, but I knew I was important to him, too. Others were curious about our relationship, however. One time, while Jack and I were hanging out in the park, his ex-girlfriend was there. She saw us together and started yelling at him and throwing beer bottles at my head. There were a few times when his friends mentioned to me how much Jack cared about me. But Jack never did.
I had been dating another guy from my high school who was in a punk band. He really liked me, but I had other things on my mind. I was about to leave for college in Missouri in a few weeks and was still in a complete freak-out mode. The night after I broke up with my boyfriend, Jack and I broke into the outdoor swimming pool in an apartment complex by my mom’s house to go skinny dipping. I found a pair of kid’s swimming goggles next to the pool and put them on. When we were done swimming, I left on the goggles but left off my clothes to drive Jack home. Not paying attention to where I was going, I crashed my Nissan into the back of a big parked truck. Jack threw me the remainder of my clothing and took off into the night, leaving me to deal with the wreckage. I think he was on probation and was afraid the cops would show up. I left a note on the truck’s windshield (the damage was pretty much all on my car) and drove my smashed vehicle up the street near where one of my best friends lived. I called her crying, asking if she could come pick me up because my car was totaled. She said she was in bed and couldn’t come. I didn’t know who else to call, so I called my ex-boyfriend that I had broken up with the day before. He was nice enough to pick me up and take me home… where I had to wake up my mom and tell her about the car.
Not long after I left for school, Jack took a bus down to come visit me in Missouri. I was surprised he was willing to make the journey, but excited to see someone from home. He stocked my mini-fridge with booze and we spent the weekend doing our normal routine of drinking, walking around, and occasionally making out. I had a good time with him, but had moved beyond the destructive pranks– like him emptying an entire bottle of my expensive hair product onto my head while I wasn’t looking, and him tearing down signs that some girl had on her door in my dorm. My dorm was women-only and I had had to get special permission to have a boy stay in my room for a few days. When my bitter R.A. reported that my guest had torn down the girl’s sign, I got called before the disciplinary board for “vandalism.” This was a joke to me because I hadn’t even seen him tear down the sign. I got put on dorm “probation,” whatever that means.
The next time I saw Jack was that Christmas vacation when I went home. I was happy to spend time with him again after he had made such an effort to visit me at college. I had to go back to school before the rest of my friends, and one of my best friends ended up sleeping with Jack after I left. It was the first time that I realized maybe I felt for him in a way that was stronger than just a friend. I was upset that he had slept with my friend when we had such a close bond that was also physical a few times. On the other hand, I couldn’t say anything because several months prior, I had hooked up with his best friend (one of the twins). Whoopsie.
After that, we continued to get together when I was in town, but I guess lost touch a bit. I went to the East Coast for grad school and didn’t spend much time at home until a couple years ago when I moved back for a few months. I was having another moment of personal crisis; my three-year relationship was falling apart, I was trying to save money to move to New York, and I was taking a lot of anxiety medication which wasn’t helping. I remember going to Jack’s bar to visit him, but spending most of the time outside fighting with my boyfriend on the phone. He understandably kept his distance. He had cleaned up his act, wasn’t going out as much, had gotten really into biking, and less into wreaking havoc around town.
I finally moved to New York, got my life back on track, and now two years later here I am! Last Christmas, I intended to hang out with Jack, but was mainly concerned with spending time with another guy friend. I ended up rescheduling with Jack a couple times and then when we finally saw each other, it was only for a few minutes. I felt like an asshole the next morning when I saw his text “Nice seeing you for fifteen minutes last night…” The next time I saw Jack was when I went home for a wedding a few months ago. I was excited to see him and make up for how I had acted over Christmas. The night we hung out he was incredibly cold and ended up ditching me for his work friends. I asked him if it was because he was angry with me, but all he would say is “I don’t know what to say to you anymore.”
Over the next couple months I wondered if I really had grown that far apart from one of my most beloved friends. But how could he feel like we had nothing in common? I’ve always thought of him as one of the funniest people I know and I’d like to think we have a similar sense of humor. He is also the person who introduced me to a lot of the music that has become important to me over the past ten years of my life. (The title of this post is the name of the Led Zeppelin album that was the soundtrack to much of our time together when we were teenagers.) I felt like despite his inability to open up about his feelings, I knew this guy pretty well and we hadn’t grown apart as much as I feared. We had gone through one of the rockiest times in both our lives together and I hoped that we both appreciated that. I wanted to give it another chance.
Jack and I hung out a few days ago and I was relieved to find that things seemed to be back to normal between us. He was seeing a new lady-friend and had just gotten back from a cross-country bike trip, so he was in good spirits. We joked around like we used to, talked about what music we’ve been listening to, and he taught me how to play shuffleboard. As much like a cliche teen drama as it may sound, I didn’t realize that I had taken our friendship for granted… until it almost fell apart. Out of all of the friends I have, there is a small circle of people that I will always make exceptions for because they are like my family and I love them. Jack is one of those people.
OK, back to the blind dates.