The Recliner

Last week we got all moved in to the new place.

It’s weird. Our friends, Peter and Jessica, used to live here… and now all our stuff is where their stuff used to be. Yesterday, I tied a rope to the garbage can lid in the garage so I could open it without having to go down the stairs… a trick I learned from Peter.

It’s just kinda strange moving into a place where we’ve spent so many hours playing games, talking and building relationships and memories… and now we’re LIVING there.

I’m putting my TV where Peter’s TV used to be, setting up my couch and our computers in the same room where theirs were… I even gave them my recliner several months ago because we didn’t have room for it and it matched their furniture. As it turned out, they wanted to let me have it back when we moved into the place because I loved my recliner and would now have space for it.

Now they’ve moved out and we’ve moved in.

Interestingly enough, Pete and Jess left the recliner for us and when the cleaning people came into the place to “un-Pete and Jess” the place, they saw the recliner and thought, “hey! Free chair!”

We got there and didn’t see the recliner anywhere so the rental office made the cleaning people bring it back.

Now, the recliner’s sittin’ there thinking, “what the? YOU again? I thought I got rid of you the last time! Awwww, man! You gotta be kiddin me! That CAT’S back? Great! That’s all I need. A cat that wigs out over it’s own shadow, jumpin’ off me and leaving its stupid hair all over my arms. Nice.”

Don’t worry, though. The recliner didn’t have too long to complain. We bought a new futon to put in the basement next to it. It’s one of those micro-suede ones with nice, firm cushions. It’s all sleek and cool-lookin.

Recliner: “How YOU doin’?”

Futon: “Um. Hi. It’s frickin’ cold down here, ya know that?”

Recliner: “Tell me about it. Not to worry, though. Sooner or later, they’ll drape a blanket over those fine shoulders of yours. Wanna see something impressive? Check these over-stuffed arms out.”

Futon: “Ew!! Is your stuffing falling out?”

Recliner: “Er… no. That’s cat hair. Hey… I’m a rocker! You wanna rock this place, baby?”

Futon: “What’s that squeaking noise? Is that comeing from you? How OLD are you, anyway?”

Recliner: “Maturity comes with age, honey. There’s a red fur blanket in that box over there that I bet would look just stunning on you!”

Futon: “Ooh! I look great in red!”

Recliner: “I bet you do! You and I make quite an item, ya know?”

Futon: “Sure. My grey micro-suede, your aqua courdoroy with blue speckles, covered it cat hair and pop-corn crumbs… we could really hit it off… not. …Your arm is touching me. The courdoroy is leaving lines in my suede. Back off, or I’ll come down so hard on that lever of yours, you will never recline again.”

Ok… so it’s not a match made in heaven, but I look forward to some good nappin’ ahead.

goodbye

Sunday, June 18th marked the 10th anniversary.

I still remember the phone call. I’d just gotten home from a grueling day at the factory, putting toys in cereal boxes. I was tired, dirty and smelled like Cheerios.

There had been several phone messages waiting for me from his uncle.
I called back and heard the unforgettable news from a quivering voice on the other end: “Your college roommate, Stephen Brown was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident.”

My best friend was dead. Stolen.

Stephen was driving home from a church picnic with his little sister in the passenger seat and three friends in the back seat. They came upon a four-way stop, waited to cross, and proceeded forward.

A drunk driver behind the wheel of a pickup truck T-boned them from the left side. His death was instantaneous.

A moment later, Stephen’s sister, the sole survivor, woke up with him slumped over in her lap.

I remember the funeral… it was so surreal. It looked like a cheap facsimile of him in the box; a stranger.

I carried him out of the church into the hearse and our processional floated to the grave site. We buried him with his favorite hats… one of them I had given him. I was just going through the motions. Nothing was real. I didn’t feel anything.

It wasn’t real until I got back to campus that fall. My first day back, I walked around the college, went to all our favorite spots, played pool and walked by the lake… alone.

I went back to my room and wept, looking forward to when I’d see him again.

I’ve thought about him nearly every single day since that night… perhaps afraid that if I don’t pay him my daily homage I’ll be dishonoring his memory somehow.

He and I used to joke around all the time about what we’d do if the other one died:

“If you die, can I have your CD’s and your stereo?”

…and after you’ve lost your roommate, jokes like that just aren’t funny anymore… and it’s not true that if your roommate dies, you get a 4.0.

The only thing I got was a bunch of memories and landmarks that reminded me of him daily.

Over the years, it’s gotten easier. I can barely remember his face.

The last shadow I can remember is the sound of his laughter.

Voice Mail

I noticed today that I had a voice mail on my phone.

I never check my messages at work. Mostly, this is due to the fact that my phone rings about once every 2 months. If people at work want to get a hold of me, they usually email or IM me. Because of this, messages can sit in my voice mail box for weeks before I’ll ever notice them. A buddy of mine at work likes to tease me about how my voice mail light is always on. Today I happened to notice it and thought, “oh, a message. I don’t remember the last time I had one of those. Maybe this is a new one.”

Since I rarely check my messages, I had to re-learn how to use the system. Eventually, I waded through the detestable audio menus and heard my message:

“you have…. one…. new… message….. recorded on…. February… second…..”

I laughed and hung up.