Monday, April 30, 2012

I Miss the Friend that Punched Me

I got punched once. A bunch of older guys told us to fight for no reason. Just to get some laughs and cheap entertainment because there was probably nothing good on TV. He didn't want to. But being the idiot that I was, I pushed him. I was an asshole. I had originally written "I'm an asshole," but I like to think I've become a better person. At least a bit better than I once was. Or maybe I'm just lying to myself. But anyway, he punched me. A perfect shot to the forehead.  I was 9 and he was 10 I think. All the older guys were screaming around us as if it was a boxing match, while Juan and I wrestled in the dirt.

His older sister came and dragged him out. She took him home. And now I was alone on the ground, surrounded by a bunch of idiots. I fit perfectly in. They had manipulated me so easily. They had gotten in my head. I couldn't believe I had just done that. And now I was alone. With dirty clothes. And a bump on my forehead. We were neighbors. As I walked up the stairs to the second floor of my house, I looked to my left where I saw my best friend there. He was being scolded by his mother. "What the hell is the matter with you?" I heard her tell him.

My mom yelled at me too.

I felt so stupid for what had happened. And now, I had a huge bump on my forehead that was a physical manifestation of the idiot that I was. Of the jerk that I was. Maybe even, secretly, I was ashamed that I didn't give him a bump as well. I was a loser. So that weekend, my family and I went to Ford City mall. I remember. There was a huge fountain there. Or maybe there still is, I haven't been there in a long time. But I remember seeing all of the coins shine at the bottom of the fountain. Some shined more than others, as if the one that shined the most was the winner. And now it would grant that wish. The spell that the squeeze of a human hand had given it. How does a coin remember what wish it was sent out to grant? It just does. I asked my mom for a quarter. I went up to the fountain and asked it for my bump to go away. It sounds like a stupid wish, but I really just wanted my shame to go away. The memory of the fight I had started with my best friend to go away. I dropped the coin in. It's funny. When you drop a coin in a fountain you almost feel proud of that coin. Like if you had raised that coin and taught it everything you know. Now you would send it out with a mission. And you feel confident that you taught it well enough. It must've worked because the bump was gone within a few weeks! But another coin must've outshone it in mid-wish because the memory of the fight still lingers to this day.

(I wonder if his wish came true.)

Juan was a free spirit. He would wake up two hours before school started and rode his bike shirtless. His whole family was like that. His father was really strict. I would always hear him yell. I always imagined that's why he was always outside. Better than being inside. His little brother would also be up and about. He would wake me up every morning. "Lady!" That was my dog's name. He would visit her every morning before school by my fence. Even on the weekends.

My bump receded, and we were still good friends. We rode bikes together. He once found human teeth in his back yard. He put them in his pocket. "Eww." We played soccer together and laughed together. And fought together.

I spit out dirt! My teeth were black. A girl looked at me and said, "are you okay?" I looked in the mirror and almost gasped because of how i looked. Never look in the mirror when you have dirt on your face and teeth. I brushed my teeth and came back outside. I grabbed the empty chips bag from the floor and filled it with dirt. Revenge. I waited until he passed by on his bike and got him in mid seat.

 We were best friends. We did everything together. And even though we fought, we got over it and we would be okay the very next day.

(Maybe my friend's into naked bike rides now?)

"Goodbye," were his last words. A year after the punch he moved away to Arkansas. Shirtless Juan. I've never seen him since. I saw him and his family drive away in a dirty pick up truck with a bunch of junk in the back. Dirty bicycles. Even a refrigerator. Sometimes I wish I could meet him again. I don't remember his last name, but I can still picture him perfectly how I last saw him. If you ever find this, send me a message!

It's strange when you lose a friend as a kid. You never forget their face. Their 11 year old face. And you wonder how much they've changed. Or how much they've grown. You wonder if they ever think of you like you still remember them. And imagine seeing them after all these years. Imagine telling them if they remember the fight. If they remember the dirt. If they remember the good times. You tell them about all the friend you've met since you last saw each other. And you listen about theirs. You show them their old house and how you still haven't moved since they left. There's been three new families to move into that house since you left you tell them. You have a new dog.

You compare heights to see how much you've both grown. His hand hovers way above your head. You feel short now. Then you both laugh. "Maybe if  I still had that bump," you joke. More laughter.

But most importantly, his face is now that of a 20 year old. A 30 year old. A 105 year old. And you keep that memory in your head; you hold it tight. Until we meet again.

(until we meet again.)

Have you ever lost a friend?

I'll be your friend on Twitter!

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