You know what I miss? Late night conversations. Time is everything, but rigid when young. Wasting the night talking all sorts of nonsense. We grow older, but our thoughts don’t. When you’re fifteen and in love you can talk with your friends all night. It’s acceptable and almost expected. The late night conversations don’t matter: you don’t remember the conversations you had, just the greatest hits and that you had them with someone. Then what happens? You grow up? You get a real job and tell yourself that you are doing is more important and growing ever more important by the day. The talks end, but the conversations don’t stop flowing; they just never get to leave the room. I mean, Can you have a thought if you don’t tell anybody?
Who do you talk to when it’s not appropriate to call at 3:37 AM anymore? Nobody has it figured out here or anywhere else. We take classes on Mathematics and Chemistry and English. We take classes in History, so we can learn to not repeat it. But again we don’t learn from it anyways, it’s just there to remind us of what we are doomed to become. It’s not like we can just take a class on relationships. It is something you have to experience in your own way. We neglect to really understand literature and bask in the true wisdom it carries. Literature brings with it a long and prestigious list of what not to do. Simple deduction states that if we don’t know what to do in any capacity then we have to learn from reading what not to do through the shared collective of books. All paths end at the same gate.
Youth is wasted on the young, but wisdom is never deftly shared with them either. The folly of youth and the cynicism of the lived. A twisted world where we all lose and nobody survives because were too self-centered to notice the world and too bitter at the end to find joy in sharing our mistakes.
We grow older but we don’t grow up. All these stories we’d share end up a distant memory. If that even, if we don’t share them with someone. Of all of life’s hardships loneliness is the hardest conquer. Our greatest fear isn’t power or any of that shit. It’s not friends missing your calls, but that they don’t call back. It’s not when we wake up alone, and it’s not when we don’t recognize yourself in the mirror ‘cause that happens too. It’s the moment where you disconnect. We fear when we stop loving ourselves and in that moment we become a stranger in our last sanctuary. The only place you could be yourself and think freely and unthinkably it’s no longer yours.
It seems possible. I don’t know if the wisdom is really being passed on at this point. I don’t care. Friends help though. You won’t need but a few. They help see you, especially when you don’t know who you are anymore. I can’t say I’m worthy of them. That’s the good thing about friends is not having to deserve them. An honest friend is priceless.
I don’t even know how I would share a story like mine, or where to begin or whether or not it’s worth sharing or if anyone would listen. I think I will share the story of Madeline Baker and how she foolishly saved me, Gregory Braedensen.
Madeline carried herself with a likeness I had yet to understand at the ripe age of 18. I had seen beauty, even kissed it from time to time but never in my years had I seen the walls commanded with such a presence. A smidge over five feet tall wearing a romper and kids tennis shoes she looked like she was still supposed to be in school, like grade school except for the nametag which stated her name. She was indeed one of us, a freshmen.
She strode over in her sketchers size 6 and sat next to this girl in this other nametag which read “Emily Bradensan” and that picked my interest. I’ve never seen someone who has even remotely similar name. I squint further to double check.
I’m not that stealthy I guess. In my shock I put on my stupid face. They look at me. I make eye contact and smile. She gives me a funny look like I was completely naked, or she was. Either way I didn’t know what to do so naturally I did nothing. Emily smirked and told Madeline to say something to me.
Madeline smirked and walked across the circular room and stopped at my open mouth and said, “Someone certainly enjoys boobs and doesn’t care who sees!”
“No, I was looking at her nametag.” I mumbled.
“Sure you were!” she jested.
“No seriously, her last name is so close to mine! I’ve never seen anything like that before!” I implored, “Look at my nametag!”
She looked down and noticed how my story is truer than just plausible deniability. “Hmmm well, I guess that could be possible, I just think you like boobs, even your sister’s boobs!” she joked.
I was aghast, I was just a mere boy in the face of her brazen sexuality. She hadn’t even introduced herself yet and was already laying into me a perverse ribbing only a lifetime friend could dish out.
“Well, I’m Gregory. Gregory Braedensen. It’s a pleasure to meet you. You must know all about me, but I figured I would give you a voice to match everything you know about me.” I tried to jest back. Normally I’m quite witty but today only idiocy came through.
“Greg, can I call you Greg? I’m Madeline. Madeline Baker. So… you’re saying you don’t like her boobs?” She ribbed.
Game over. I was trapped, she hooked and baited me and even made it more offensive by letting me explain that we almost shared the same last name. A fact that would come to light later on in our friendship that they noticed before they decided to humiliate me.
I blushed hard, but I had little control. Even through all this I can’t deny that I didn’t notice Emily’s breasts. They were indeed at attention. My late father would have basked in the sick glory that was his humor. He might have called it wincest, or if he was daring enough he might have joked that he should have left me in Alabama so I could have kissed my sister “legally”. Mind you, nothing ever happened with Emily, but he still would have reposed himself with a sick joke that only a dad could get away with.
“Don’t you like her boobs, too?” I retorted.
“I love ‘em!” she joked, were gonna be lesbian roommates!” even sliding her tongue to the corner of her mouth and giving a little head nod back to Emily. She never confirmed with me but I think she smiled again at her Pun. But then it wasn’t a joke, turns out they were actually going to be roommates.
“Come introduce me to your sister.” She said with another shit eating smile on her face. She even took me by my hand and leveraged her tiny frame against my weight. She was loving this. Every second of it, I could tell. She looked back at me and pouted when I first resisted. I gave in at this point fearing she would say something more audibly distressing. I mustered my best smolder looked back at Madeline as her eyes glistened wide with excitement and emptiness. Emptiness as if she needed some reinforcement in her words, like her side of the conversation wasn’t important until it was deemed as such by the receiver. I reckon it was that moment that her and I connected, for better or worse. Probably worse, but ultimately I realized she was broken, not unlike myself. Hello University!
I’m 25 now, I guess I’ve settled down now, relatively speaking. I’ve lost the vigor in my angst and the free spirit I retained until last year. Last year was my first year in the real world as an adult. My first place by myself, my first corporate job, and my first new car. Maybe I’m just bitter but I feel cheated, more so than before. I felt cheated in University too. But in a different way.
I dreamed of University of this bastion of higher learning, where learning was encouraged and expected. Instead, I found monotony. The same warm lite beer on a Friday night, with the same friends doing the same things all expecting change. What had become of culture when we couldn’t even fucking spell light correctly. That was outside the classroom. Inside the classroom is different right? Wrong. Stagnant everywhere. Pretentious bottom lickers who scraped by doing the same thing. Stifling creativity by trapping it to a grade. Remnants of the pretentious academics that preceded us I’m sure. Worst of all is how much they charged me for it. They made me pay for this mediocrity. I became a statistic, and for what? A number on a piece of paper? How crude to still measure us by such subjective archaic methods. I used to marvel at how the Catholic Church was resistant to change, but then I learned at how adaptive they truly are. How bold of them to stay current with the times while other religions remain stoic rooted in the tropes of idealism.
Universities had become a stronghold of complacency. Tossing aside the progressive moniker in the name of learning. I’ve learned more on my own volition than I have inside those parched walls. What did I learn? Anything I wanted I could learn, but I have a piece of paper from the university detailing what I learned. People don’t understand this droll suffering, and look back fondly on their days in Uni. My coworker Eric, is in his mid 40’s and went to a radically different University than I did, even though we share the same alma mater. I lie and say it was an enjoyable experience to match his sentiments, even though it wasn’t.
Drones. We are all drones, fumbling in the dark stubbing our toes on the same damn dresser. We’re pitted against each other for opportunity when we should be collaborating. Choosing to calm the current instead of making waves. When did we begin to value a number more than the study? I don’t think it really matters, but it matters that it happened.
I feel cheated in adulthood. We misplace our desire in reaching adulthood only to have society encourage this struggle. I wake up and go to my job as a data analyst. It’s demanding, but not unreasonable, I make decent money and live comfortably, but it just feels empty. I transplanted myself but just haven’t quite meshed with the area. I have a spacious studio apartment with a fantastic view of “The Hound” a lurid light up sign depicting a Billy drinking some sort whiskey and water with an arrow pointing down to the local bar of the same name.
I’ve never been there, maybe I’m different but it doesn’t seem like my type of place. I’m not characteristically anti-social or even odd. I’m just particular about what I do outside of work. I hate the traffic associated with this city. Six lanes of can you fucking not honk your horn and can you please use your blinker or at least your brain. I just don’t feel very much in common with people here. I wouldn’t say I’m above them, just perhaps more perceptive.
I’m not depressed today, maybe that’s why I bought McDonald’s today. I guess more accurately it should be stated that I tried to buy McDonald’s. They run this promotion from time to time about paying with love. They wanted me to call somebody and tell them how much I love them, but I didn’t know who to call. I just politely asked if I could pay for my meal normally. They reluctantly agreed to.
That was enough social interaction for today. Sometimes I think back to Madeline. In Uni, I was awful to her. One semester, we had class together and I’ve been proud of this at one moment or another but now all it gives me is grief. In her sincerity that I mocked; she had saved me a seat in class on the first day. I… showed up 10 minutes late in a wife beater with a backpack full of empty bottles and began scanning the room for a seat. I glanced right then rotated left. There were two seats. The one she saved and one on the opposite side of the room. In my most humble moment I went and sat in the back corner. Then to top it off I went on to give her my friend’s phone number in lieu of mine and proceeded to ignore her for an entire semester until I desperately needed help with a project in the last weeks of class. Her kind heart not only forgave me, but in the end helped me with the project. Despite her stature she will always be a bigger person than I will ever be. The pain I inflicted on her only 4 years of knowing me. She might have been hurt before, but I didn’t help in making her life any more enjoyable, out of the fear that I would become too close. So we didn’t.
That’s the funny thing though, when we met I wasn’t single. Don’t lecture me on morals and shit. I’m not a home wrecker. I only ruin my own chances at happiness. Madeline always gave me that look in her eye. The kind of look that makes your girlfriend uneasy, so naturally I knew it was one of those friendships worth keeping tabs on. Call it a habit, but those were the only kind of friends I had back then. Eventually it came to fruition and ultimately that’s why I pushed myself away, even after I was single. But that’s when it happened, a revelation was coming. I laugh because, she couldn’t have opened up until she was until she was resting her brow on my chest. It’s quite literally the only way. I made a point to always be kind and honest when I was naked, out of respect mostly. And also because I liked not getting punched in the balls. The irony never escapes me in being so unsuccessful in separating the emotional from the physical, but I still give myself a moral victory for trying.
Her smile hung low with her right hand holding my left forearm with her body against my right side. Her intermittent rubbing of her thumb let me know that she was about to reveal some rather personal information.