May Angels Lead You In

I wrote the following on March 29th, 2011. I've edited it for typos since, and in the process have re-lived the pain of losing Laron. Everything I wrote in this entry still rings true. While the initial grief has passed, I still get the wind knocked out of me every once and a while when remembering her and remembering that she really isn't here anymore.. 

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I have spent the last 5 days listening to CDs that haven't seen the light of day in three years.

Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, Minor Threat, Jimmy Eat World, Rancid, Mindless Self Indulgence...

Music that defines a very specific time in my life that, 5 days ago, I willingly didn't recall very often. It wasn't a bad time in my life. Actually, it was a really amazing time. In fact, the more time I spend considering who I was back then I start to realize I used to be a better person all around. I was happier. I was more loving. I was confident in who I was. I've probably always known that though, which would explain my illogical avoidance of revisiting those memories.

It is cliche to say death creates introspection and self-realization, but I suppose it's only cliche because it's true and happens often... to others. Having lost people in my life, including my father, I included myself in the elusive group of people who have had an unfortunate exposure to death and loss. Previously though, I never really batted an eye over it. I was so young. I didn't grasp it, and this recent experience has made me realize that I probably still haven't grasped the full scope of loss that I have experienced in my life. In short, I felt I was above that cliche sense of introspection that others seem to experience in the face of adversity. Until 5 days ago.

Laron Short died in a fucking tornado.

My best friend for 5 years died. Forget the anger, the petty arguments, the distance between us over the last 3 years. My best friend died.

This has been so hard. I don't know if I have ever experienced anything this difficult. I had no idea what true grief was until 5 days ago. I cry at red lights. I cry in the Canned Goods aisle of Crest. I cry walking up the 4 flights of stairs into my new job. I can't help it. It's just like the movies. Time slowly stops, and I'm sitting in the middle of her bed, surrounded by rough drafts of our staff's articles for the school newspaper. We're bitching about Cheney. We're talking about blowjobs while Minor Threat plays in the background.

And then the car behind me honks and I realize I have no idea where I've been for the last few minutes, how long I've been pissing off the Chevy Tahoe 3 cars back by holding up the line. Huge portions of the last week are missing from my memory. I am counting out my change to the cashier and happily answering her questions about my day while images of us swinging in Regional Park at midnight talking about women's rights rolls through my head. Or I clear my throat and dab some Visene into my eyes before stepping out onto the fourth floor landing at Midland and flawlessly transition back into a happy, eager new co-worker ready and willing to learn the FiServ Software. I am not present, I am not whole right now.

There is a part of me that feels completely unjustified in my reaction. I know Laron had many better and more recent people in her life. I know she had moved on from our time together. I know I have current best friends that she could not replace or duplicate. I know I am the reason she and I fell apart. But beneath it all, I also know the time we spent together, the love we had for each other, was not in vain. It was a legitimate connection between kindred souls, and I know that I would not be the person I am today had she not been such an integral part of my life in a time where all I needed was a hand to hold.

I think a lot of people aren't aware of who I was before I met Laron. If they did they would understand why the last 3 years of distance between her and I has been completely undone in the last 5 days.

I was home schooled throughout middle school. I quite literally went 3 years without ever speaking to anyone. I had friendships with people online, over long distances, over the phone. Mostly, I didn't socialize. I certainly didn't go out. Anywhere. I was in a very lonely, dark, isolated place.

In 2004, I enrolled in Midwest City High School after becoming aware of the state I was in. I was there half a year before meeting Laron, going through the motions of trying to find a group of friends to call my own and trying to pick up the pace of a much more strict academic schedule than what I experienced doing home school. I did have friends. I don't remember their names now, but they were there; They gave me rides, they gave me something to do during the far-too-long lunch break.

One thing I can say with confidence about myself back then was that I had pretty kick taste in music. I had this Dead Kennedy's shirt that I wore religiously. It was my safety blanket. I guess she noticed, and eventually one day made her way over to me through the crowd of MCHS students. She was wearing a knitted "I love Kerry" beanie, a Ramones shirt and snakeskin pleather pants. It was fate.

To cut a long story short (a story I realize now could never be long enough), we bonded. Instantly. Throughout my years of being Laron's best friend, I was exposed to such a variety of ideas, talents, opinions, subcultures and people. It was truly beautiful and a pleasure. I can never express how grateful I am to have known (and still know) the people, places and things she introduced me to. Her humor was effortless. Her wit was outstanding. When you read something she had written, it hit you in a way that made it seem like you had just taken a long swig of ice water on a hot Oklahoma day. It was a privilege to experience the by-products of her existence. I would do anything right now to go back to 2006 for just 10 minutes.

She made me. That's the easiest way to say it. I have changed a lot since the time when our friendship was in full swing, no one can deny that. I have grown in many ways and I have also been stunted in many ways. But the truth is that I met her at a time in my life when I had no one. She became my world. She instilled in me strength, courage and confidence, to the point where I eventually convinced myself I didn't need her anymore. What a fool I was.

If her death has any silver lining, it is that I have been able to realize what an important role she had in my life and I have been able to release myself from the mental block I had about that time. I am able now to fully give her credit where credit is due. I am now able to forgive myself for the mistakes I made regarding our friendship. I am able to release myself from the bondage of guilt and instead throw myself entirely into loving her the way I used to. Without judgment or jealousy. It has been extremely freeing in a way. And she deserves this type of biased love.

I went to her viewing yesterday expecting the sight of her laying there, cold and lifeless, in the same Ramones shirt she wore the day we met to provide closure... but it didn't. Not yet, at least.

I guess that's why I'm writing this. If I stay true to my ways, I will move on eventually. I always do, from everything. It's one of the things that caused such tensions between me and Laron. I was eventually always too good for something. I was over it. Our friendship was no different. If only I could go back. But.. It's obviously impossible. I will close with this:

Laron... I am sorry. I love you. Thank you.

And to Tommy, Tony, Karla, and Aaron, who accompanied me to the viewing and who held me as I wept at the sight of Laron there, thank you. And to Tammy, my second mother, who without bring prompted gave me more closure than years of writing and tears ever could. Thank you beyond words. I love each of you so very much.

The title of this post comes from one of my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs that I dedicated as my song to Laron shortly before she moved to Washington. It is eerily fitting now.

Take me away

I wanna touch the earth
I wanna break it in my hands
I wanna grow something wild and unruly

I wanna sleep on the hard ground
On a pillow of blue bonnets
In a blanket made of stars

Oh it sounds good to me

Cut the cord

Things I have eliminated from my life in order to simplfy:

-Data plan/internet on the phone
-Deleted Facebook

Eventually I hope to get rid of a cell phone all together, at least stop texting. I'd say the internet too but there is too much knowledge and too many marketing options out there for me to do it, even in the future. Damn!

I feel so freed and less stressed since I've cut these things out of my life. Less baggage, just how I like it. If only I could win my battle with food the way I can with technology.

Changes Made

A few important changes I've made recently:

-Cut all ties with my TV/Cable
-Joined (or am in the process of joining) a gym
-New, stable job
-Focusing in on debt

Suck it, former life.

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