Several days ago my old buddies Gregg & his brother Scott got together to shoot some pool & quietly celebrate Greggs birthday. We were sitting around essentially talking about a heady melange of health problems, layoffs, wives, money woes & in my case children, and Scott stated:
“Guys, remember when we used to hang out on the roof of Dave’s apartment building, drinking beers , having loads of cash and not a care in the world?”
As the words sunk in I thought dreamily, “Yeah… It certainly was a time…” It was in the early 90’s, we’d graduated high school and were all working our way through our first semester of community college with surprisingly well paying jobs. Dave dubbed it “Golden Semester”. Also in the sitcom-like history of “wacky bachelor antics” on the roof of our friend Dave’s apartment complex we had nocturnally decorated a parody of a living room with discarded furniture we had found. At it’s zenith we had a battered black couch, 3 arm chairs, a dresser, and for humor’s sake a broken TV on a stand; I even think we had a throw rug. In hindsight I can’t even imagine having the energy to silently move a living room set up 5 flights of stairs, ah youth.
While I remember many favorable things from those days (amongst them being thin) what is wince inducing was our “arrogance”. We were all just so utterly certain we’d be successful. It wasn’t entirely our fault we felt this way, there was a decent economy, we had plenty of expendable income, and we had cruised through the previous 12 years of schooling with great grades & little effort and our teachers all but assuring us grand achievements. Things were different & we were pretty innocent. Less than 10 minutes ago Shu called me to let me know in no uncertain terms that she did the math (she handles the bills & is very good at it, while I’m better at sulking & making internet posts) and we are going to be dramaticly short on rent. Reality. I’m hoping a second job interview that I have Monday will go well but we are talking about other plans that involve severely menial work, low pay & shit hours just to survive. I think about that kid leaning on the ledge of the roof staring at the stars (you could still see them then) feeling the world was laid out before me; now I feel fated to the same degradation, back breaking labour and early grave that took my dad.
Even though as I sit here, I can still smell the cool night air of those evenings and smile, shaking my head at the recklessness we had as we’d run from building to building on the narrow passes desiged only to keep the rain off people’s heads, lucky we didn’t break our necks; I do know that at least I’m a better man than I was then; well, not so much better but deeper & more responsible. Sure I admit, I have kids, the bar has to be raised… I also admit I feel much more like damaged goods, but even though I admit that I have fallen quite deeply into despair I do know at least I will do what I have to in order to keep us afloat. A small comfort, but I’ll take what confidence I can find since I’ve no faith in anything other that that one small thing at least… That more than anything else is what my father left me; and I’m really glad he did.