The last week of school was known as Seniors Week. It was five days dedicated to a specific activity for seniors all ready done with classes. Monday was volunteer project day, when the graduating class would leave a gift for the school and posterity. That year, we chose to build an extra ramp to connect the upper campus and lower campus. The old ramp was a long way around the perimeter of the school. The new ramp was a shortcut and made traveling faster for students who needed the ramps to get around. It was a great project. The rest of the week was dedicated to fun. Tuesday we went to the beach and played games in and out of the water. Wednesday night we had a bonfire, where we burned old assignments and had smores and roasted hot dogs and sang songs and danced around the flames. Thursday was carnival day, where set up games and played them all day and had our last talent show that evening. It was the last chance to sing your heart out with your band or show off the dance routines your crew used to battle other crews. And finally Friday, the big night of the Senior Ball.
All through the week, I had avoided Thor and Morrigan. I was still having trouble dealing with my angst towards them. Not that they noticed or anything. They seemed so focused on each other. Typical teenage love, I suppose. But I spent that whole week with my other friends, which was a good way to spend whatever time we had remaining. In a week, we'd all graduate and go our separate ways. Some of us were going to school to far off places; others were getting jobs; and a few had signed up for military service. So for one more week, we got to enjoy just being teenagers, without any real responsibilities, still holding on to some semblance of innocence before the real world would intrude on our dreams and hopes and youthful optimism. By the time Friday rolled around, I think I was able to pull myself together and focus on the big picture. I may have lost my two closest friends in one of worst ways imaginable, but I still had other friends that I needed to spend time with, before the clock ran out and we'd become adults.
Friday night came and I was all ready for the Senior Ball. I had mousse in my stylish mullet and wore a white dinner jacket to match Zaria's black gown with a white off-the-shoulders trim. Of course, I also used a generous amount of Aqua Velva--I had shaved that day, not that I needed to shave everyday. At the time, I only used a razor at least once every two weeks. It took that long for my facial hair to grow. I caught a ride with a friend and we went to pick up our dates, gave the girls their corsages, and posed for pictures before we took off to the country club that was hosting our Senior Ball.
It was quite a sight seeing my classmates dressed up in tuxedos and glittering dresses, everyone excited for what promised to be a fun night. It was our last big formal high school dance. Big hair was in, and there was probably a serious dent in the ozone layer from all the hairspray that went into the creation of monstrous bangs and mile high hair. We posed for more pictures before we all went inside for dinner and voted for our Royal Court of the Senior Ball.
Thor and Morrigan were in the running for King and Queen. No surprise there, the golden couple of the hour would make the perfect King and Queen. I wasn't sure if I wanted to hurl or wish them luck. Zaria was a cheerleader, so naturally, she was expected to run for Queen, and as her date, I was entered to run for King by default. Not that I expected to win or anything. I never ran for anything other than a few offices in some clubs and organizations that I liked. I always thought the Royal Court at these formal dances was just fluff, another feather for the popular kids to put in their caps. It was just another excuse to measure their popularity. So superficial and such a waste of time. So, imagine my surprise when Zaria and I were voted Queen and King!
Ordinarily, I would've seized the opportunity and do something totally inappropriate and rebellious for laughs, but looking at Zaria shine that night made me put on my best behavior. The girl needed something to be proud of after the rough time she was going through. So I smiled and danced the first dance of the night with her. Then we each danced with a member of the Royal Court, the runners up. I had to dance with Morrigan, which was awkward. She congratulated me, but I could tell she was totally oblivious to my inner turmoil. I wasn't sure if it was good acting on my part, or because she was so high on new love euphoria that she was blind to everything else. I was quite relieved to move on to another partner and the slow song was over. And I was so glad to hear the DJ change the beat. When his speakers blasted out, "Everybody Dance Now!", we filled the dance floor and got our groove on.
We danced to Mary J Blige, TLC, Mariah Carey, Ace of Base, and The Real McCoy. Hip Hop and Euro Pop and R&B tunes were in heavy rotation that night. Of course, this being a high school dance, we did a couple of line dances as well. All the formality and pretense at being dignified went out the window as the hours ticked by and we partied hard on the dance floor. By ten thirty, some of us were sneaking out to the golf course to make out and take the party even further. I was getting hot and sweaty and needed something to drink. Luckily, Zaria needed a break from dancing; her shoes were fabulous but they were killing her feet. I left her at the table with our other friends and excused myself for some fresh air. Of course, I headed out to where my delinquent buddies were hanging that night. Only when I found them, there were other kids from other groups there as well.
There is something magical about the last big dance that breaks down barriers and brings about a general feeling of congeniality among classmates. It's like we knew this was the last time we'd all be together, and we all wanted to get along and leave on a good note. So, I wasn't surprised to see nerds and jocks and artists mixing it up with my delinquent buddies. Or maybe it was the alcohol and mood altering substances that were being passed around. But whatever the cause, the effect was the same; we just wanted to enjoy our last time together, party hard, and just have fun.
I found myself sitting next to Camulus, who greeted me enthusiastically and put his arm around my neck. I could smell a hint of alcohol coming off of him, which explained his very friendly mood. He usually carried himself so seriously around school, smiled every now and then, but he was really focused on whatever needed to be done. Camulus was our star athlete. He had been MVP several times in volleyball, basketball, football, and rugby. He was the king of the jocks, one of the top dogs in high school. He had groupies who followed him everywhere, fawning over his every move, though he seemed oblivious to them. I first met him back in junior high school; he was one of Thor's inner circle. We didn't really become friends until we started high school and shared most of our classes that year. We also joined a lot of the same clubs and activities.
When Zaria and I started a Business Club in our junior year, it wasn't because we were so gung ho about business classes. The truth was, we thought it would be funny to set up a club just for yearbook pictures then dissolve the club soon after. But the joke was on us, as a lot of students signed up and joined our club. Camulus was one of those students. Zaria and I had to create a constitution and mission statement and hold elections for the club. It was a lot of work we didn't anticipate, but it was worth it. We held fund raisers, toured business facilities, and held conferences where business leaders were invited to share their wisdom with our members. We even got corporate sponsors for prizes when we held the first ever regional business class competition with other high schools. Camulus held the title of fastest typist and top accountant for two years in a row. He was smart and athletic. He was going places, and it was an academic scholarship that was paying his way to college, even though he got athletic scholarship offers as well.
Camulus was Tamar's date. In fact, they had been going out for most of our senior year. I didn't see the high maintenance princess anywhere. Okay, so I thought Tamar was an airhead and she came off as snobby. She liked to lecture us about the proper way to act or the right clothes to wear. But she was Camulus girl and Morrigan's friend, and I could at least tolerate her. I stayed out there for a few minutes, laughing and joking with my friends as they passed around the booze and shared a lit one. I had a buzz just from second hand exposure.
I headed back inside because I didn't want to leave Zaria by herself too long. But when I got back, it seemed that I didn't have to worry about Zaria being alone. She was on the dance floor, making out with another guy! He was one of my quieter nerd friends, and Zaria was giving him the best night of his teenage life! I was worried that Zaria was going to toss him aside once she was done with him, but I figured, well, let him have his fun. It was Senior Ball night. Everyone should have a good time.
I was surprised to find Tamar sitting alone at our table. Earlier, she was sitting at a different table with Thor and Morrigan. So I sat down next to her and said hello. She told me that everyone seemed to be having fun. I agreed. Then she she explained why she was sitting at our table. It seems that Thor professing undying love and devotion to Morrigan got on Tamar's nerves, making her want to throw up, so she left the love birds to themselves. I thought that was funny, so I laughed. I looked at Tamar, who was smiling at me, and I thought, Ah, what the hell, it's Senior Ball night, so I asked her to dance. She accepted. And we danced through all the fast and slow songs. I had to admit that I was having a good time with her.
When midnight came, the Ball was over. But the after parties were starting. There were quite a few, one in the woods, another at the beach, and one more at another isolated area by the river. The plan was to go to all three. But first, I had to make sure Zaria was okay. She was taking a ride with my nerd friend to the party by the river. My friend was driving, said that he would make sure Zaria got home safely. Tamar offered me a ride to the woods party, and I told her I'd help look for Camulus while she went to freshen up. I found Camulus behind the building with a few of our friends, drunk and laughing. Soon, the others left to go to the beach party, and we told them we'd meet them there later. Camulus took one last puff. Then he let it out slowly. In the haze of smoke, he looked at me with an impish grin. I told him, "You look like you're having a good time."
He laughed, "I am." Then he got a serious, thoughtful expression on his face, "You know, I'm going to miss my friends. I'm going to miss having you around, dude."
I replied, "I'm going to miss having you around, too, dude."
Camulus said, "I luv you, man."
I laughed, "I luv you, too, man."
"No," he said. He face was suddenly in front of mine, I could feel his hot breath on my face, "I really mean it." Then he leaned forward and surprised the hell out of me! I didn't see this one coming, that's for sure. Holy moly! I didn't know how to react. I did not expect this! I mean, I was hoping to get lucky tonight, only this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I didn't know whether to be freaked out or flattered. The truth was, I kind of froze. But it happened real fast and it was over before I could think. I could smell his cologne mixed in with the heady scent of booze and magic puff. I decided it was probably the mind altering substances that were having this effect on Camulus. I thought I should play it cool.
He whispered, "I luv you, man."
So I replied, "I know you do; I can be very lovable, you know. I'm like candy; everyone wants a piece of me!"
That made him laugh, and broke the serious mood. And I joined him in laughter. We headed to the parking lot and met up with Tamar. It felt weird seeing Camulus give Tamar a quick kiss on the cheek and hug her. I put the encounter behind the building out of my mind. I chalked it up to booze, drugs, and Senior Ball mayhem. It was a wild night, and some things just happen.
When we got to the woods, there was all ready a small campfire going. Someone had their car stereo on and there was booze. A few of were all ready drunk; some were dancing around the campfire; others were making out in the back of their pick up trucks. And there was laughter. Some of these kids were spending the night here. We stayed for a little while, mingling with some of our friends before we headed out to the river. There, we saw another campfire and more booze and music also from someone's car stereo. I saw Zaria, still making out with my nerd friend in his car. We met up with some friends and sat in the back of a pick up truck. Tamar and I had sodas while Camulus drank more booze. We were mostly talking about what our plans were and how we were going to keep in touch. Of course we teased each other as we recalled our embarrassing moments from high school.
Thor and Morrigan showed up, but they kept mostly to themselves. That was fine with me. I mean, I was still kind of mad at Thor for asking Morrigan out when he knew that I liked her. But suddenly, other things had happened tonight to take the edge of my angst. Or maybe it was just the second hand exposure to that magic haze some of my friends were creating. Meanwhile, Camulus was totally drunk. We thought it best to take him home. Thor volunteered to take Camulus home with him; it wouldn't be the first time Camulus crashed at his place. So we helped him into Thor's car and then Tamar and I headed for the beach party.
I have to say it was a strange feeling to be hanging with just Tamar. It was even stranger that it felt comfortable being in her company. On the way to the beach party, she asked if I had been to another remote beach on the outskirts of town. I said yeah, I have. There was really nothing out there. It was quite some distance from the main road, very isolated. She asked me if I thought it was a great spot for skinny dipping. And I said that it was. Then she asked if I wanted to go there, and I thought, Why not? So I said sure.
I'm not sure what exactly possessed me that night, but we never made it to the beach party. I saw a side of Tamar that I'd never seen before. Sometimes, things just happen and you just go with the flow. It was an unbelievably unreal night at the beach, and the isolated atmosphere induced us to act on our wildest impulses. Anyone who's been on the beach can tell you that rolling around in the sand is not comfortable or sexy. In fact, it's down right irritating with the sand grinding into your knees and elbows, getting into all those crevices. But, I'll never forget the thrill of running free on the sand and into the water with another person, excited to know you were both doing something risky and thrilling. The water maybe cold at first, but your mind and your body will be focused on other more stimulating things. You feel your heart racing, and a sense of urgency and adventure taking over your body as you look at the other person, getting closer and closer. And when you finally touch, lightning rips through your bodies and you're overcome with need and desire, consumed by hunger and wanton lust.
After that night, I never looked at a Ford Mustang the same way again. I'll always remember just how incredible it felt to press cool, wet skin against the warm, metal hood. The simultaneous stimulation of hot and cold senses propels a pleasurable sensation into blinding ecstasy, over and over again. It was an otherworldly euphoric experience that devoured our body and souls. The unquenchable flames of passion would burn us all night until the rising of the morning sun broke the spell that had overtaken us. Senior Ball night was over; it's magic was done.
I was still in a state of bliss when Tamar dropped me off the street near my home. I wanted to take a little walk to enjoy the solitude before the world woke up. I wasn't sure if I was dreaming. It didn't feel real. But I could still smell her perfume after a shower and the stinging on my back was a firm reminder that what happened was real. I fell asleep, worn and exhausted from activities and emotions of the night before, and I slept and dreamt of fire and ice.
When I woke up much later in the afternoon. I found myself staring at the ceiling, half asleep, still deciphering what was real and what was in the realm of dreams. But as I became more awake, the bright sunlight bursting through my window revealed the harsh truth. And I felt sick. I felt terrible. I was feeling a heavy weight in the depth of my chest. I closed my eyes, but I could not hide from the light of the terrible truth. I had done a terrible wrong. I had committed a grave sin. I had become the very thing that I despised the most: A traitor.
I had cursed Thor for forsaking our friendship and stealing Morrigan when he knew that I had feelings for her. And now, I had done the very same thing and betrayed Camulus. I felt so low, so angry and disappointed in myself. How could I have done this? I felt like such a treacherous heel, a hypocrite, a Judas among faithful friends. What's even worse was that I truly enjoyed my time with Tamar, however brief, knowing that we would never ever get a chance to do it again. I was ashamed that I lost control and throughly enjoyed it. I felt so disgusted with myself. I couldn't believe how weak and evil I had become. I felt so awful that day, and it was only Saturday. On Monday, I would have to face these people again, and I wasn't sure if I could. I didn't think that I would have the strength. I had no idea what to do and I felt lost, angry, and sad. What was supposed to be a great ending to a good experience was turning into a bitter, painful time. I wasn't sure if I even knew myself anymore.
But Monday was graduation, and when it came, I had no excuse but to attend. I had to deal my friends one way or another, and I knew that I could never move on in life until I faced my fears. I was the first one to show up. Graduation wouldn't take place until a few hours later. I was soon joined by Zaria. She seemed so chipper and excited. I was just nervous. She told me, "Wow can you believe that we're saying good bye to school and each other?"
I said, "No, it still feels unreal."
Zaria said, "And it's like everyone is breaking up, too, ready to start new things."
I was intrigued, "What do you mean?"
"Well, I tried to call you this weekend, but you weren't answering your phone," that was true. I had been avoiding contact all weekend. She continued, "But Thor and Morrigan broke up."
"What?" I was shocked. They were broken up all ready?
"Yeah," Zaria continued,"Morrigan said it didn't make sense to stay together when they were going to different places. She figured if they made a clean break, they could still be friends and move on."
"Oh," I said. I wasn't sure if what I was feeling was relief or sadness; maybe it was both.
But Zaria went on, "And Camulus and Tamar broke up, too."
Ouch! I felt a painful twinge in my chest. It was guilt, and I was reminded of the horrible thing I had done. Zaria said, "But they said that they weren't ready for a serious relationship or something like that. But they'll still be friends."
"Huh", I said. Then I saw Tamar approaching, and I felt my heart flutter. I didn't know what to say to her when we greeted each other. But I finally managed to muster up the courage and say, "I'm sorry to hear about you and Camulus."
She looked me in the eye and said, "Don't be sorry; it just wasn't meant to be. We've been over for while now. We weren't ready for anything serious," she paused, then spoke softly enough so that only I could hear her, "I think he was in love with someone else."
"Oh," I said, and I dared not speculate who this other person was. And when Camulus arrived, we joked and acted like nothing had happened. I still felt guilty, but I wasn't going to bring up anything to damper the spirit of the day. I would carry my secret shame with me, alone. No one else needed to know. Whatever happened that night is nobody's business.
The rest of our friends started filtering in. The last person I greeted was Morrigan. Her eyes were red and puffy, as if she had been crying recently. When I asked her if she was okay, she said that she would be. When I asked her if it was true what they said about her and Thor breaking up, she confirmed it.
She said, "He was nice; he treated me well, and on some level, I think I'll always love him. But," she paused,"you can't force yourself to love someone, no matter how great they are."
I just nodded. She looked me in the eye and whispered, "Sometimes, you have to experience what you don't want to find out who you really love. Sometimes, you find that they've been there all along."
I didn't know how to take this. Once again, she was confusing me. What exactly was she trying to say? And why was she leaning her head against mine, hugging me so tightly? I felt awkward and conflicted. If she was making a pass, then this was my chance to seize the opportunity and make her mine. But we had run out of time! And would I even take that chance? I mean, she had just broken up with someone else. Not just anyone else, but another close friend. Could I do this? Could I hurt Thor the way he had hurt me, by going for what I want and forsaking our friendship? Did we even have a friendship anymore?
It was just too much for me to handle. It had all ready been a tough few days. I couldn't cope with any more drama. Life was about to get hard as soon as we left these classroom walls. So, I decided then and there that I would not pursue anything with Morrigan. It was just too hard. I wasn't sure what she wanted from me; I wasn't sure if she even knew what she wanted! The only thing I could do now was be her friend. That's the only thing I could handle at the time. Life was complicated all ready; I didn't need any more twists and turns and surprises in my existence. So I kept it at that, and I made sure Morrigan knew that we would be friends, nothing more, nothing less.
As for Thor, he didn't come to our usual gathering place that day. In fact, I didn't see him until a half hour before graduation. He had surrounded himself with his entourage. And though we posed for pictures afterward and congratulated each other, something had change. We could see it in each other's eyes. Our friendship had been dealt a devastating blow, and we weren't sure if it could ever recover; we weren't even sure if we wanted it to recover. The last time I saw him was later that night at a party at one of our friend's house. I had gone out for some fresh air and happened to look up at the second floor. There, on one of the balconies, sat Thor, all by himself. I wasn't sure if I should I approach him or not. I wasn't sure what I wanted from him. An apology? I don't know, but I knew that we had spent too much time in each other's lives to just walk away without saying anything. So I went back in the house and headed up to where he was sitting.
I carefully approached him on the balcony and greeted him, "Hey."
He looked at me, and nodded towards the chair on the other side. I sat down, and we watched our classmates below, running in and out of the house, laughing, dancing, drinking, playing. They seemed so far away from where we were, even though we could hear their voices and the music from the party found its way to the balcony. We sat there for a few minutes more in silence. It felt awkward at first, then it felt comforting. I didn't want the silence to be broken. It seemed right, seemed safe. But it didn't last. Thor spoke first, "I really loved her, you know."
I said, "I know."
He continued, "I still do."
and I replied, "I'm sorry."
And he answered, "So am I." His voice was heavy with sadness, and I could feel that we were both on the verge of tears. I wasn't ready for that. I couldn't handle that. The emotions were getting to be too much. So I said, "I'm going to miss you, man."
He looked at me, and smiled a sad smile, "I'm going to miss you, too, you know?".
I just nodded; then I got up. I went over and held out my hand. He looked at it, then he looked at me. I felt my heart racing. I wasn't sure what I was expecting or hoping for. He grabbed my hand, stood up and we hugged. And when we parted, I could feel my eyes starting to water. I needed to get away. I could tell he was on the verge of crying too. It was like we were mourning the loss of our friendship, and we didn't know where to go from here. We were still so young and immature, but at the time we didn't think so. But we were at a loss as to how to repair the damage, how to regain our trust. The truth was, I wasn't smart enough or wise enough to handle the crisis. If I had been his real true friend, I would've comforted him through his loss. But I wasn't mature enough, and I didn't know any better. All I could think about was running away. It's how I dealt with my problems with my family. So I said shakily, "You take care, man."
And he replied in a voice just as emotionally choked, "You, too, man."
And I walked away, never to see him again. A few days later, I got on a plane and left my hometown, never looking back. The painful memories of friendship lost and betrayal changed me. I wanted to become a better man, a stronger man, and a better friend.
I lost contact with all my friends eventually. It started gradually. Weekly phone calls and letters tapered to monthly contacts; then just holidays. Eventually, we moved so much that we lost contact totally. And for a long time, I didn't speak to any of them. Life was an adventure for me and I was making new friends. But during the quiet periods when I found myself alone on a beach or under the stars at night, I couldn't help but wonder about my friends. I had spent so much time trying to forget about my painful experiences at home, I had buried the good times along with the bad.
But life is full of surprises; the true bond of friendship is one of those pleasant surprises. It started with email. Suddenly, I didn't need an updated address or phone number anymore. Email offered a connection, no matter where we were. I started reaching out to my friends again, and in no time, we started talking again, picking up where we left off. Zaria was the first one I talked to; then Morrigan emailed me; then Camulus and even Tamar. My other friends started contacting me again. Thor sent me an email. And I sent a reply. But that's as far as that went. The truth was, we were still feeling raw emotions, and the wounds we had suffered weren't quite healed yet. I wasn't sure if they'd ever heal.
Meanwhile, Zaria joined the service after college and is an officer in the Air Force. She's been deployed to Iraq twice and is on rotation to Afghanistan next. I keep her in my thoughts and email her at least once a month to check up on her. Camulus opened a successful accounting firm on the West Coast, where he employs a small staff of people. Tamar got married and has children. She and her husband own a car dealership--I didn't ask if they sold Mustangs. Morrigan became a psychologist specializing in adolescents. I figured if anyone understood angsty, confused teenagers, it would be her.
My relationship with Morrigan was getting complicated again. Over the years, we've been taking vacations together. The last time we spent a few days in Las Vegas. We partied, we danced, we gambled, we got drunk. While sharing a bottle of wine on the bed, she confessed her love for me, then kissed me and promptly passed out. I chucked it up to the wine and let her sleep it off in my bed, her head curled up on my shoulder. I didn't bring it up the next morning, pretending nothing had happened. The truth was, I wasn't ready for her. I still had feelings for her, but I wasn't sure if it was right. All I could think about was Thor and how Morrigan broke his heart. As for Thor, the last I heard was that he had gotten a job in gov't after college, working in disaster management. I guess he was following the path his father set out for him, getting involved in gov't then eventually politics.
It's been over ten years since Thor and I last saw each other, much less spoke face to face. It seemed like such a long time ago when were such good friends and had that devastating fall out. And I hadn't thought of him in quite some time, content with the belief that what happened, happened. That's life. We live, we learn, we move on. And I had made peace with that.
That is until my mother's funeral two months ago sent me home. I was so caught up in being there for her that last week and dealing with her funeral afterward. I didn't have time to visit any of my old friends and old haunts back home. I wish I had more time, but things were too intense and too crazy in my family. Nothing's changed, I suppose. Except this time around, I felt more in control, and I could speak my mind freely and walk away without feeling any guilt.
I arrived early at the airport for my departure, once again getting ready to leave my hometown. I had a few hours til my flight arrived. But I didn't mind hanging out at the airport with my nieces and nephews, away from the distractions and drama of home. But if I thought being at the airport prevented any drama, I was wrong. It was my niece who pointed him out. She worked at the same place as he did, at an engineering firm. I guess he eventually followed his own dreams of becoming an engineer. I was proud of him.
And when I turned to where she was pointing, my heart quickened just a little bit when I saw him. There he was, Thor. Still tall; still with a the golden hair, except, it was now parted to the right; not the shaggy golden locks he sported in school. He had gotten older, so had I; we weren't skinny kids anymore. I got up and approached him. His back was towards me; he had a small child in his arms, looking out at the runway. I took a deep breath, tapped him on his shoulder and then stood next to him.
He turned to me, his eyes got wide, his mouth opened, but he didn't say anything.
So I smiled, held out my hand and said, "How's it going, Thor?"
He grabbed my hand, shook it, then reached over for an awkward hug with this small child almost crushed between us. "Dude," he exclaimed, "When did you get back?"
"Two weeks ago," I said. He looked surprised, so I explained, "Family emergency. My mother was ill. Then she passed away. So, I've been pretty busy; haven't had a chance to see anyone."
"I'm sorry to hear about your Mom. I didn't know," he said.
"Thanks. That's all right. She went peacefully," I paused, "I'm leaving tonight."
Thor looked surprised, "All ready?" I could hear a sense of urgency in his voice.
"Yeah," I said, "I wish I could stay longer, but I got to get back home. Besides, I came to do what I needed to do. But I'll definitely be back next year."
"You sure?," he asked,
"Definitely," I said, "I've kind of forgotten that there were important things back here that I needed to come back to."
Thor nodded, smiled. So I asked him, "So, who's this?"
"Ah," he beamed, "This is my son. He's my youngest." I held out my hand and shook his son's tiny hand. The little boy was but two years old.
We spent the next hour catching each other up on our lives. I congratulated him on being an engineer and getting married with two kids. We laughed at some of the stuff we remembered doing back in school; then we talked about old classmates and friends, filling each other in on what we knew. It was an exhilarating feeling, talking to him again. It was like the old days when we used to joke around and laugh. And it felt good.
When the time finally came for me to head towards the departure gate, we finally touched upon the subject that tore us apart all those years ago. He asked me, "Do you still hear from Morrigan?"
She was the one friend we had yet to discuss. So I answered, "Yeah, I still hear from her." Suddenly, the awkwardness returned. I could see the angst returning in both of us. In his eyes, I could see the yearning, the deep, visceral response he was having to the mention of Morrigan. He still loved her, after all these years, he still had feelings for her. And he also exhibited guilt, looking away. So I told him, "She's doing fine, you know."
He looked me in the eye. For the moment, the conflicting emotions were put to rest. I told him, "Look, I'm heading out to my gate, but it was great seeing you again, man. I mean it."
This time, I took his hand and then hugged him. He looked at me and said, "Yeah, it was good seeing you, too. You gonna keep in touch?"
"If you have the same email, then yeah, I'll definitely keep in touch. Otherwise, give me your new contact info."
He said, "It's the same email, man. You have a safe trip, bro."
It was the first time in over ten years that I had heard him refer to me as 'bro', and it felt good. I smiled at him, and headed out towards the departure gate. For the first time in a long time, I felt like maybe, just maybe our friendship had survived, that after all that we've been through, we were still friends.
For two months now, Thor and I have been exchanging weekly emails, catching each other up on what's been going on in life. It's taken a long time to get to this point, where we could talk without getting overwhelmed by guilt and intense emotions. But I feel like we're on our way to recovering our friendship. Except the fragile relationship we've built is about to be tested.
I haven't told Morrigan that Thor had asked about her when I went home two months ago. I wasn't sure if should drag up any hard memories and long buried feelings. But that's not the main problem. Morrigan asked me to go on vacation again this summer. She said she had something important she wanted to tell me in person. I'm not sure what it is, but I can't help but guess. I confess that Morrigan still gets to me, that the feelings I had for her are still there. And if I let myself go after her and follow my heart, then I would be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I mean, Thor maybe married now, but he still has feelings for Morrigan. And he hurt me bad when he went after her, knowing that I had feelings for her. Even though it ended badly, he still loves her, and a true friend would respect that and stay away. Friends never let a woman come between them; but were Thor and I really friends? A long time ago, we used to be friends.
Thor sacrificed our friendship for a chance at Morrigan's heart. Would I be able to do the same, and betray our newly reformed friendship for Morrigan's love? I don't know. And that's my problem. I really don't know.