We were road trips, all nighters, and the way an acoustic guitar sounded in dark rooms. We were brace-faces, bleach blonde hair that turned yellow, and learning how to drive cars. We were Waffle House at midnight for every birthday and placing bets on which one out of the three of us would make it to California first.
Now our moms still talk and sometimes I ask about how you are doing.
Because I went off to college, Sam got a full-time job fixing things, and you stayed in your basement.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes I just feel guilty. And I worry about you too much.
But sometimes I wonder how you think about it now.
It wasn’t until I had put the car in park that you realized you had left the key at your house. Turning around, I looked at the basket full of laundry sitting in the back seat, then back at you. Then you were getting out of the car anyways, and I was scrambling after you.
By the time I had caught up with you, you were around the side of your grandmother’s house trying to slide a screen door open. You gasped and I laughed when you were able to slide it open only a crack.
When the house next door opened the garage door, and your grandmother’s neighbors gave us weird looks, I realized how bad it must’ve looked: two kids trying to break into a house vie a sliding door.
After a few minutes of no luck on the side of the house, I walked back to the front only to realize you could’ve lifted the garage door. We’d been there for fifteen minutes.
I moved the clothes from the washer to the dryer while you loaded the new clothes into the wash after me.
I remember standing up, facing you, only inches from your blood-shot, swollen eyes, and just laughing with you.
That day, I didn’t have the guts to tell him what I really thought of him. Maybe he’d forget or he’d laugh.
When I called him on his twenty-first birthday, he told me he had been sober for a month, and I hadn’t known what to say.
Yesterday, I couldn’t shake the thought of him and the thought of all the things I never told him while I chased my dreams and he chased the next delivery of the things that kept him stuck in his basement.
So can I tell you all of the things I never had the guts to tell my best friend?
Because I believe all of this so much for you.
It’s the last Monday of the year, and I hope you know that someone– at least someone– feels this way about you.
I hope you know that you are good at dreaming and good at the things you dream about.
I hope you know that there are people sitting in the rooms you sit in, and you’re all that they can think about.
I hope you know that you are found in every memory that makes up the parts of someone’s childhood that they don’t want to ever forget.
I hope you know that someone wants to tell their kids all about you.
I hope you know that there is someone who believes in you fiercely.
I hope you know there is someone who loves the way you smell,
who loves your laugh and all the things that make you laugh.
I hope you know there is someone who remembers you, wonders about you, and misses you.
I hope you know that your name is someone’s favorite name.
And God, I hope you know that no matter how deep the hole gets that life helped dig you into, even when you’re deep in it and quick to say “You just don’t understand, I can’t come back,” there is always–always–someone waiting for you to look up and say you want out, someone waiting to finally help.
We were sitting on the curb at the end of his grandmother’s driveway listening to the washer and dryer spin.
He pulled out a cigarette, and we sat there making up scenarios for the lives of neighbors we could see from where we sat. The sun was out and the cement felt cold under my hands, and for a moment I forgot about the things that distanced us.
He flicked the last ashes of his cigarette away, looked at me, and smiled. “You know we can go, right? We don’t have to wait for the load to be done. I just thought it’d be nice to sit here for a minute with you.”
I smiled back.
I turned the car on while he shut the garage door, and then he hopped into the passenger seat asking me to pass the aux cord.
And sometimes I wonder how long that sliding screen door stayed cracked open after we forgot to go shut it that day.