Thursday, February 16, 2012


I think everyone should be entitled to one day off a year that doesn't count toward or against anything.  Not a sick day.  Not a vacation day.  No penalties.  No questions.  Just one day (unpaid for all I care) where you can call in and all is forgiven.

The reason shouldn't matter.  Could be that you stayed up way too late the night before and you're exhausted.  Could be a "mental health" day.  Could be that you're just in a funk.  Could be that you're in a fantastic mood and work shouldn't be allowed to bring you down.

And it shouldn't matter what you use that day for, either.  A huge sale at your favorite store.  An event you'd like to attend.  A TV or video game marathon.  A day to get all your errands done.  A day to do nothing.  A day to do whatever.

I think I would've taken that day on Tuesday.  For me, it would have been a day to reflect.  A day to remember.  Cry.  Laugh.  Grieve.  Ache.  I would have slept.  Or zoned out on the couch.  Or maybe gone outside with the dog.  Probably some combination thereof.

But I have no time off available (using it for Disney - definitely NOT complaining about that).  And I don't get "sick" days (all my time off is in one big lump).  So instead, I sat here and tried to work through the pain.  Then tears.  Then laughter.  Then numbness.  By mid-morning, I was emotionally drained.  I got some work done, sure, but staying focused wasn't going to happen.

I was 18 and in my first semester of college (which failed miserably, but that's not the point of this story).  My mental health and stability were so-so, and I didn't have many friends yet.  So, as has been my way of coping for a long time, I turned to the internet.

It was a Yahoo chatroom, I think.  Probably location based.  I'm not sure how it started, but we started talking.  We were both about the same age.  Both from Wisconsin.  Both bored.  So we kept talking.

When we met in person, my hair was red.  BRIGHT red.  Bozo red, you said.  I was easy to find, though.  We hung out, talked, enjoyed one another's company.  I think we knew dating would never happen (in fact, you had a girlfriend at the time, and I had a boyfriend, so it didn't matter anyway), but something made us want to be friends.

Maybe a few days later, we were talking about hair.  You liked long hair.  My hair was probably to my shoulders or a little longer, and you said I'd be prettier with longer hair, so I marched to the dorm bathroom with a pair of scissors and hacked at my hair.  You laughed and thought I was crazy.  I probably was.  Thankfully, it actually looked cute.  I've been cutting my own hair since.

You introduced me to web forums, and somehow made me feel like I belonged, even though I had nothing to do with the game it was associated with and didn't know any of the people there.  

You made me watch Fight Club, on the understanding that I'd have to watch it a second time to actually understand it.  

You took me to the bowling alley and we played pool.

We cruised East Wash together, listening to ICP.  

I was there when you got your first tattoo finished up.  You never did explain it to me; it never really mattered.

Best of all, you never judged me.  You always told me things the way they were, instead of telling me what I wanted to hear.  You listened, and even if you didn't care, you made me feel like you did.  I needed that.

It's been years since we talked.  Even longer since I've seen you.  A few months ago we exchanged brief messages on Facebook, the first time we'd spoken in forever.  It felt good.  

And now you're gone.  And I'm left with this ache because I don't understand.  I don't understand what happened.  I don't understand how it happened.  I don't even understand why it hurts me so much.  We haven't really been friends in a long time, but somehow, knowing you're gone and we'll never be friends again hurts so much worse than I ever would have imagined.

A lot of people will miss you.  People closer to you than I was, for sure.  But it doesn't make my pain any less real.  

RIP, DS.  

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