My life could be divided into two parts, right now. The various chapters would make up Part I, life before Julie, and Part II, the continuing saga I live each day since finding my soul mate. I was never a ladies man. Apparently not much of a risk taker, either. Throughout my formative years, Matt seemed to fill that role of risk taker; I learned years later that he was much more of a ladies man than I was, too.
Sometime during our senior year of high school, he confided in me that he'd lost his virginity years earlier. I was devastated. Not sure why. Jealousy, I guess. And ego. I'd always thought of myself as "cooler" than Matt. Isn't that shitty? My best friend and I was always one step away from him, pursuing membership into more popular cliques. Mind you, I was loyal to Matt. I would have defended him no matter what he did back then. Once, when he was in a stupor, Matt clocked this kid at one of my annual summer party's. No reason. He just felt like punching the kid.
Did I reprimand him? Did I cut off his beer and tell him to straighten up? Hell no. In fact, I told the kid he punched (his neighbor, no less) to leave the party. Matt was my friend. My brother. He wasn't leaving the party. The next day, when I went to start a fight with this punk who'd tried to take advantage of my, then, girlfriend, I accidentally smashed the kid's garage window. I say accident. I was pounding on the glass calling him out for a fight. As blood trailed down my arm and I stood there in shock, Matt hauled my ass back to the car, threw me in and we drove away. (Any doubts that this guy had made the moves on my girl were quelled when he didn't pursue me having to pay for the window. Apparently, a broken window was even payback for feeling up a guy's intoxicated girlfriend).
I was passionate even back then. I wore my emotions on my sleeve. I put my heart out there for the girls I was in love with, and Matt supportted me. He wanted to see me happy.
There are, I'd say, four important female relationships in my life before I met Jules. Matt listened to my whining and constant talk. The girl I had a crush in from 3rd through 5th grade wouldn't give me the time of day. Maybe she wasn't ready for a boyfriend, like all the other cool kids were doing. Or perhaps it was the glasses that took up half of my face, I don't know? But Matt listened to my constant questions. "Why doesn't she like me? Do you think she'll be in school today? What do I say if she wants to talk to me." He grinned and bared it.
The next two girls were high school romances. One girl was a complete jock. She and I were constantly dating on and off throughout high school until she graduated a year before me. While I had some friends question why I was even interested in a total tom-boy who played soccer and never wore a dress, Matt only questioned whether I was happy. And then there was the girl that broke my heart. Senior year was magical in so many ways. And then the girl moved and I became a blubbering idiot. The first person I called when I learned she was leaving was Matt. Sitting behind the counter at American Video, I cried my eyes out to him. Matt invited me over to console me. What could he do? After the girl left town, I absorbed countless hours of Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love" that I had borrowed from him. My introduction to the boss came through heartbreak.
when I finally got over THE girl from high school, there was one other relationship that took up a portion of my life the last two years at Bowling Green. This girl and I sucked the life out of each other, and escaping to Athens to visit Matt at Ohio University was one of the few releases I had to escape the misery she and I were putting each other through. Thankfully, the relationship ended (not on a good note, mind you, but it was over).
The break up occurred just before graduation and I swore off dating until I made my move to California. Well, that never happened. I met Julie that same summer and I could not deny the forces of nature that were pulling us together. After one date, I knew I was going to marry Julie. And of course, one of the first people I told was Matt. He smiled... I can still see that whimsical smile with his long curly hair hanging on his shoulders. "Man, that is so fucking cool." He said to me.
Before he moved away, Matt taught me how to play the chords of Springsteen's "Book of Dreams" so that I could serenade Julie and propose to her. It was a parting gift before he moved on to his life in Seattle and Jules and I began our life together.
As I reflect on this part of my relationship with my deceased friend, I'm trying to look at the good parts of his support and how he hoped for the best for me. After we got married, nothing was ever quite the same between us. His search for a soul mate always ended badly. He was a man capable of a lot of love and loyalty. But he was also so into experiencing "the moment" that I think his judgment was sometimes clouded.
There was one girl that he never got over. She broke up with him after several years together and I really think that that broken heart sent him sprialing for two, three years. His mood darkened. He began drinking heavily. These things, coupled with a move back to Ohio and his denial of how serious his diabetes was really changed him.
But he always had hope. Hope that he'd find a girl of his dreams again. Maybe in the great hereafter, he's found a smart, gorgeous woman that satisfies all of his needs.