Rose Colored RadfordPosted: August 23, 2016
In the late nineties, I took a lot of road trips. I mean, a lot of road trips. One was to Radford, Virginia.
I don’t remember it like this photo; I didn’t do anything touristy while I was there at all.
I went to visit my friend from mIRC. He was older than I was then, but younger than I am now: an interesting thing to think about. He seemed to know everything. Not everything in a book sense, everything in a practical sense. He knew how the world worked.
I looked up to him. I admired him. I possibly hero-worshipped him. I probably hero-worshipped him.
Anyway, he said that I could come visit him. So I was like, cool. Let’s do this.
I threw some clothes in the back of my car and hit the road. It was a long trip, but the leaves were just beginning to turn, and it was gorgeous scenery. And the gas was super cheap in Georgia. Less than eighty cents a gallon.
I failed to dodge a possum crossing the road. It was the first time that I hit something warm-blooded with my car. I cried.
I remember when I finally got to Virginia there were so many signs telling me that radar detectors were illegal. It didn’t matter; I’ve never had one. It seemed terribly unfair, though. It had never crossed my mind before that they might be illegal anywhere, let alone in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world.
Remind me sometime to write about the brainwashing to which we subject our children in this country.
Those signs were a slap in the face for me, the first in a series. It’s a challenge to overcome a lifetime of learning, but this was one of the very first times I was out in the great wide world all by my lonesome, far away from home.
But I finally made it, and when I pulled up in front of his house, I was floored. It was huge. Gigantic. Stupendous. Honestly, it probably wasn’t all that big, but I didn’t have any friends who lived on their own in a real house any bigger than a thousand square feet, and here was this two-story monstrosity with one single person living in it.
I was impressed.
I was pretty excited to meet him. But–and I should have seen this coming, since we hung out in the #depressed room on mIRC–he was so sad. Trust me, we can smell our own.
We did a quick lap around the house, and he showed me the room upstairs where I was going to sleep, since I’d driven straight through and was exhausted.
If I had to choose one room from all the rooms I’ve ever been in to spend the rest of my life, to spend eternity, it would be this room. I am not the nerdy teenaged bookworm that I once was, but that girl is still inside me, and her love for that room is still tremendous.
It was a mess, I’ll give you that, but it was the best kind of mess: a mess of books. I slept on the couch in the middle of the room, surrounded by teetering towers of books that I’d never read. Books that I’d never heard of. There were books on the floor and books on the end table. There were books in boxes and books in bags.
I immediately felt at home. I slept wonderfully.
I spent three days there, but I don’t remember much of what we did.
I remember that I cleaned the kitchen.
I remember that we went to the DMV because he had to renew his license. I was impressed with the technology there; heck, our DMV is still a completely disorganized circle of Hell, twenty years later. We went today, and it was closed for server issues. I also learned that some states don’t charge for vanity plates. He had one; it was his mIRC screen name, most of the vowels removed.
And I remember that we went to his ex-girlfriend’s house.
Everyone has that ex. The one that screwed up your life. Or the one for whom you screwed up your own life for love of them. She was his. And they still hung out, because he wasn’t over her.
She had roommates, other friends of theirs. They smoked some pot, and I declined.
There was this weird vibe that I didn’t understand at the time. It was months before I did understand, because that’s when he sent me a copy of his autobiography, and I found out that she was that girl.
And even reading what he’d written, and witnessing them interact, I went on to make the same mistake. Find someone, the wrong someone, waste time with them, lose them, pine over them, get them back, wise up, ditch them for good. That’s how my story went. I’m luckier than some.
I went to visit him again a few months later, maybe a year and a half. He’d moved to another state, a little closer this time, but still hundreds of miles away. He was better then. Happier. And closer to being over her. I was glad to see that.
I don’t remember who disappeared first, him or me. But it was perfectly in character for both of us. No goodbyes, just a never heard from again kind of ending.
He was secretive where I was open, but I did learn his real name. I’m afraid to look him up, though, because of Jeremy. I’m not so sure that I could find him anyway. He wouldn’t have a Facebook. Unless he’s changed so much I wouldn’t recognize him, in which case, I think we’d both rather I remember him this way.
Through the rose-colored glasses of memory.