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I remember

I remember the hot tub party at the end of our junior year. Remember how I begged you to take me, because it was a date dance and not a casual party? You already had a date so you set me up with Reedy, and I thought it was just an innocent friendship set-up... Ugh, what a mess, there I was, trying to push him away from me, and then Chad came along and saved me. I have pictures of us from that night, in the hot tub together, with Tres, who won the palest-man-at-the-party award, or photos inside, with plastic lais around our necks.

I remember when we went to the They Might be Giants concert and managed to get seats in the third row. The two of us, along with four other strangers, then yelled requests at the band when they weren’t playing music. I still can’t believe we actually got them to respond to us while they were in the middle of a show.

I remember when we were travelling through Boston, how we stopped at Cheers to take our picture in front of the front door. We were soaking wet because it was raining on our only day in Boston. But we followed all the painted red lines on the streets to find historical landmarks, stood on the torture devises on the sidewalks, took pictures everywhere.
And when we drove to Harvard campus, we took pictures of ourselves looking “intelligent” - looking upward, hands under our chin, poised in thought, looking as tacky as possible.

I remember how we would sit in my dorm room, in the window sill, feet hanging outside, my stereo blaring. You used to always joke that one day you’d push me out the window. But we’d sit there, listening to music, singing to people that would walk in front of my window. Remember how we’d sing to Potholes in My Lawn by De La Soul or Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic or Hoe Down by Special Ed. How you thought the lines to Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by They Might be Giants wasn’t “This is a recording” but “Give it to me, give it to me.” How you thought the lines to Headhunter by Front 242 wasn’t “Three you slowly spread the net” but “Three you slowly spread the legs.” We’d sing, make people look up at us, and either wave or laugh.

Yesterday was the first day that I hadn’t cried for you. Those first two days had been so hard, I might have been fine for a half hour and then something would trigger it in my mind and I would want to cry. I thought maybe I’m getting used to the news, but today I cried again.

I remember the Valentine’s Dance we went to together. It was at your fraternity house, you came over, dressed up in a nice suit, I was wearing a red strapless Vanna White-style dress, and you came over and you looked so mad.
“Why are you mad?”
“I just came from the house, it’s an hour before the dance, and everyone is wearing jeans watching the basketball game. Decorations aren’t even up.”
I look at my dress. ”So what you’re saying is that I’m overdressed?”
We decided to take pictures of us dressed up before I changed dresses. We went through a few photos, then I changed into a more casual, cotton, off-the-shoulder dress. We took more pictures with outfit number two. Then I felt a breeze. Apparently there was a rip in the back of the dress, making it indecent at best. So, back to the closet I went, found a casual black dress, and so we took yet more pictures. Then off to the dance we went.

I remember how you’d come over to my dorm on Sunday nights, and we’d order pizza, usually Grog’s, Home of Mold, I think, and spend the evening together. We’d play Stand by R.E.M. and do the dance they do in the video. Or we’d play Madonna’s Vogue and you’d contort yourself around. Once we even spent the evening writing up lists of exes, like we were in high school.

I remember how we met - I was sitting in the cafeteria with the other girls from my dorm, and you were friends with them so you sat down and ended up right across the table from me. And it was right after Christmas break and I just got back from visiting my parents in Florida and was tan, so your first words to me were, “Is that a real tan?” And I was so mad at you, I though you were a cocky jerk.
“Well, you could have gone to a tanning salon over vacation!”
I don’t know how that could have been the start of one of the best friendships of my life.

And when you called me on the phone to tell me the news you still sounded so happy. Your viewpoint was that anyone could die at any point in time and we have to live every day to the fullest. “And I could be hit by a car tomorrow,” you said. You can’t let the thought of death kill you. And you were telling me these things, and I was trying so hard not to just start sobbing on the phone.

I remember our freshman year in college, after the horrible way we met, of course, and how we’d go to Eddie’s bar for ice cream drinks. They were about the only things we could order while underage, so we’d spend I don’t know how many Saturday afternoons drinking Oreo shakes, or maybe peach, or mint. I remember walking home to the dorms with you one rainy Saturday after an Eddie’s excursion, and we just decided to walk in the middle of the street, jumping in as many puddles as possible. A truck even drove by, yelled that we were going to catch colds. And we just laughed. We were alive, and invincible.

I remember when we met up in New Orleans, I was with Eugene, you were with Randy and Jessica, and you found out how to get to the roof of the Jackson Brewing Company building. It was the highest building near the French Quarter, and we had a fantastic view, all to ourselves.

I remember our freshman year you invited me to see the Violent Femmes in concert at Foellinger Hall. You got drunk, and ended up trying to make the moves on me, knowing I had a boyfriend... I knew you had just drank too much, but I had to draw the line when you licked the side of my face. I still like to tease you with that one.

You’re not supposed to die. This isn’t supposed to be happening to you. I’ve always expected to be able to visit your family after we all retire, compare photos of grandchildren. You can’t leave this hole in my life.

I remember after I broke up with Bill I still tried to remain friends with him so I could periodically borrow his black convertible. So one day I did, told him I needed to get some groceries, but I picked you up instead and we put the top down even when it was sixty-five degrees and about to rain and cruised around the mecca known as Champaign, Illinois.

I remember the Halloween Dance we went to. We couldn’t come up with costumes, and last minute we went to Dallas and Company costume shop and you picked up a Dick Tracy bright-yellow overcoat and hat, along with a plastic machine gun with two water cartridges. I put on a black cocktail dress, pulled up my hair, added rhinestones and a dimple and was Breathless Mahoney, but we made a point to fill the machine gun water cartridges, one with peach schnapps, one with peppermint. Someone at the dance would say, ”Don’t shoot me!” And we would say in unison, “Don’t worry.” No one could understand why we were shooting at each other’s faces.

I remember how every time we were going out for the evening and you’d be over waiting for me to get ready, I’d come out and ask you how I looked and you would always tell me that I looked really nice. Or sexy. Or fantastic. Or whatever. But you’d always say something to me me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.

I don’t want to catalog these events, these times I’ve shared with you. I don’t want to feel as if there will never be any more memories with you.

I remember how every time you guys would come over to my apartment and start drinking, you would inevitably pull out my hats, particularly the wide-brimmed straw ones, and wear them. How many pictures do I have of you with Jay, or Brian, or Brad, all in a drunken stupor wearing women’s hats?

I remember how at your fraternity house, every time they’d have a party they’d have to play “Crockodile Rock” by Elton John once. And when they did, people made a ring around the dance floor (otherwise known as the living room), and your fraternity brothers would then proceed to do somersaults and other strange dances with each other. I’m glad this whole scene frightened you as much as it did me, because I remember how every time we heard the song we’d run into the basement where the kitchen was and hide until the song was over. Usually we’d find some potato chips or salad croutons to munch on, and we’d sit on the steel counter, amongst racks of generic white bread and bulk containers to tomato paste and talk.

I remember taking Dan out for his twenty-first birthday, this six-foot-five animal of a roommate of ours, and how he got so drunk that when he started to get violent in the bar you suggested that he “play with Carol” in order to entice him to leaving the bar. So we carried him through the bar until he broke free and fell right in front of the bouncers at the front door, and you tried to drag him outside, and then the five of us ended up carrying him blocks home, stopping occasionally from exhaustion and setting him in the dirt. When we got him in you suggested we write all over him, but me being the voice of reason suggested we only write all over his back, so in permanent markers you and Chad and Eric and Ray and I scribbled “I am a drunk moron!” and other intelligent remarks all over him. And you, you were smart enough to be gone when he finally woke up in the morning.

And you were on the phone with me saying that you just have to get used to the fact that you’re not going to grow old, have a family. That all you superiors tell you, wait till you get that promotion, and you know there is no waiting for the future, you won’t be around. People take for granted that they’re just going to be around.
You never did, of course, you were the one that was always making a point to cram as much living as you could in a day, but most people aren’t like that. Most people are never as alive as you.

I remember you and Sara standing on Green and Sixth waiting in line for the cash station when a cop walked up behind the two of you, and appeared to be in line. You asked, “Do you think the cop wants cash?”

I remember visiting you in New Hampshire, trying to decide where to go out to eat for lobster, til I decided on the mess hall at the base. So while you were at work your mom showed me a private room in the hall, with one elaborately set table for two, with china cabinets and a couch and roaring fireplace. I reserved it, went home and put on a black velvet dress and waited for you to get home from work. When you got back, I told your brother and sister to tell you that I changed our plans and I was in the bathroom. You started banging on the bathroom door, and when I opened it you were stunned. You were wearing a uniform that looked like a gas station attendant’s, and there I was, completely dressed up for a formal dinner.
Your sister took a picture of us in your hallway, you just after your shower and still in a bathrobe, and me in that dress.
And after dinner we went for a stroll outside, and you were holding my hand, and I remember thinking that I wanted you to kiss me. It’s funny how we both have thought about dating each other, but never found the right time.

I remember shopping with you on the East coast, going into a clothing store and watching you look for sweaters. You pulled out a pink patterned one, asked my opinion, and I shook my head no. “I’m not a pink person,” I said. You kept looking, so I pulled up a dark brown and black cardigan from the rack and held it up from a few feet away. You shook your head no and said loudly, “I’m not a black person,” loud enough for the black security guard to give you a funny look.

I think I want all of my friends to die after I do. I don’t think I can handle this. You’re not supposed to leave me, I’m the one that’s supposed to make the dramatic exit. Besides, whenever I get married, you’re supposed to stand up in the wedding. If you die before then, I swear, I’ll kill you.

I remember once our freshman year we were sitting in the cafeteria, I don’t remember if it was lunch or dinner, my roommate Lisa was there, and we were screwing around trying to be funny. Well, I got up and got a soft serve ice cream cone and acted like I was tripping as I got to the table, like I was going to drop the cone into your lap. Well, I didn’t, but the ice cream wasn’t securely anchored to the cone, and the next thing I know all my ice cream was right in the middle of your food.

I remember visiting you in New Hampshire, and one night we just watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off over and over again. We learned half the lines to the movie that night.
“I could be the walrus, and I’d still have to bum rides off of people.”
“Drugs?” “No, thank you, I’m straight.”
We’d always find something, a line from a movie or television show... Oh, and Heathers, we could probably recreate scenes from that movie, we’ve seen it so much.
“Thank you, Ms. Fleming, you call me when the shuttle lands.”
“Icklooga bullets, I’m such an idiot...”
“Great patè, but I gotta motor if I’m going to make it to the funeral on time.”
“Will somebody tell me why I smoke these damn things?” “’Cause you’re an idiot.” “Oh, yeah...” God, these quotes make sense to no one else, just us, just you and me. It was like we had our own language.

I remember when you came to Chicago to visit me, it was around Christmas time, and you finally saw the house I grew up in. The only thing you noticed was that all of the lamps in the house were hanging from chains.

You said that some people feel like they are on death’s door with a T-cell count of four hundred, and some people can run marathons with a T-cell count of zero. You tell me yours is at eighty, and you feel fine. A little run-down, but that is to be expected.
This scares me. I know I’m being selfish, I know that deep-down inside of you it has to scare you too, but you’re too strong to let it beat you. I don’t want you to feel a little run-down, I don’t want you to feel just fine. I want you to feel alive, more alive than anyone else. I want you to live forever.

I remember once when you took me to an Air Force dinner dance, and afterward I went with you to a party of mostly Air Force people. There were people there I knew, and we were out really late, and by three-thirty in the morning you and Chris walked me home. And we stood out on Fourth Street and talked for a while, and before we knew it you had fallen to the ground grabbing you knee, screaming. You knew how to pop your knee back in place, and granted, from what I understand having your knee pop out is really, really painful, but watching you there almost made Chris and I laugh. After you got it back in place you were just drunk and sad and still in pain and all I kept thinking was “Oh, please, he just needs some sleep,” and I just kept thinking, “Oh, we’re right in front of my apartment, please, it’s four in the morning, let me just go to bed,” but I stayed out there with you and Chris until you were ready to get up and make the long journey home.

I remember the Halloween party I held on Friday the thirteenth of October - your birthday. I put up pages from the Weekly World News about supernatural sightings, lit candles and pulled out the ouija board, then you came over, put on one of my hats, I gave you a carnation, and then we all went out for the night.

I remember when you and Jay and Ellen came over to welcome Blaine to Illinois. You got really drunk, fed Ellen my pound cake that my mother gave me, then proceeded to fall asleep in my chair, sitting sideways with your head in my open window sill. And yes, I have pictures, so you can’t deny any of this.

I remember going to C.O. Daniel’s with you on Friday afternoons with the other guys from the house and how we’d dress up in our Greek Sweatshirts to fit in... Well, you always fit in, that’s how you dressed, but I had to make an exception in my dress code for these weekly happy hours. And I remember how we were wallowing in our respective depression one friday afternoon, saying that nobody loves us and we’re ugly and we’ll grow up old and alone. Well, the vision I had of my future was that I would be an old maid living in an apartment with forty cats, periodically picking one up and asking “You love me, don’t you?”
Well, anyway, I remember how we made a pact that if the two of us were still alone by the time we were forty, we’d get married.

We made a pact. You can’t back out on me now.

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