I packed a bag and my sister and the girls dropped me off at the bus stop in downtown Houston.
I had never ridden a bus from one city to another and trust me, I had a pit in my stomach, scared about that, scared about starting over, scared about a new city.
For an hour, I sat in a chair half reading the book in my hand, half people watching (if you ever want to see some interesting people, head to the bus station of a big city).
The bus was a four hour trip, non-stop, and once we pulled out of Houston, I posted on my Facebook page - "Goodbye Houston. It's been swell ... but he swellings gone down." That was it. Nothing more. I sat back in my seat and enjoyed looking out the window and the conversation I had with the lady who decided to share the seat with me.
Mom picked me up and we headed to her apartment. Later that night, after her and I spent some time catching up (we hadn't really talked in several years), I checked my Facebook and there were a lot of people wondering what I was talking about - and quite a few upset that I had left without telling them, left without notice, left in the first place.
A couple of months later, I deleted my Facebook. I gave people notice this time - gave my email address and phone number to the people who didn't have it and wanted it, etc.
People always wonder why I dislike Facebook as much as I do. It's because it makes people lazy in their relationships. It's so much easier to just to press like on what people have to say, to quickly peruse some pictures and call yourselves friends. Doesn't take much out of your life. It's a lot more difficult to actually have a conversation - whether it's through email, text or a phone call.
After getting rid of my Facebook account, I lost a lot of friends, friends that I was really close to - or had thought so.
Shortly after that, one of my best friends, since high school (minus a few years where we had lost touch), called me to tell me that he was getting divorced. I thought it was funny, actually, that he was the one who told me because, before I came here, him and his wife and I were very close. Her and I were like two peas in a pod - we spent a lot of time together without him - and the three of us spent time together as well.
To say I was shocked by the news would be an understatement. I thought they were so much in love. I emailed her and told her that if she needed anything, I was there. Maybe I should have made the phone call, but I didn't want her to feel like she had to remain my friend - you know how it is with breakups, no one's really sure who they're allowed to talk to, if you're allowed to be friends with both.
I take partial blame for the fact that our friendship ended. We had been talking after I came here - at least in text. If I could go back and change things, I would. I would have picked up that phone, no matter how awkward I felt.
I sent a couple of emails after that, including on the anniversary of her dad's death - having lost mine, I knew how much I wanted someone to acknowledge what I was going through on that day.
The end of our friendship: A few months later I texted or emailed her - I can't remember which - to ask her how she was doing. She blew up at me. She told me that I hadn't contacted her about either, that I never asked if she was ok and then started saying things about me that were so untrue - and very hurtful.
I defended myself - wouldn't you? - especially since I had done what she was accusing me of not doing. And then I ended the conversation - and the friendship. I mean, if she could treat me this way, then we really weren't friends like I thought - and she knew nothing about me after all that time we'd spent together. (I really considered her a close friend, like part of my family.) She half-ass apologized and said that maybe we could re-address all of this in a few months.
I never did.
Hindsight - which is always more clear - she was going through a lot and needed a friend, felt like I had deserted her (which was what a lot of these friends of mine said I did when I came here).
Shortly after that, my friend since high school started dating another lady, after finding out during their marriage counseling that she was dating another man ... and our friendship ended to (still not sure why, to tell you the truth).
What's the point of all this, you ask?
A few weeks ago, my mom asked me if there's anything I miss about back home and, to be completely honest, before thinking about it, I said nothing - except for my nieces and sister.
But then I thought about it ...
There are some friends that I do miss. And she's one of them.
A few days later, while looking through my book of DVDs for something specific, I came across the CD that friend of mine I mentioned at the very beginning (the only friend that knew I was leaving) had made me and given me the day before I came here. I pulled the CD out - and behind it was a picture of the band that I had forgotten I put behind there. And on the back was his phone number.
The band. That should probably be explained real quick. The band - one of the best.bands.ever. The KABS. A cover band that had some good stuff of their own (including their song Vindaloos) - they used to play at a dive bar in Clear Lake (for real, a dive bar, there was a diver painted on the wall and a shark hanging from the ceiling haha). They were some of my good memories of the last two years in Houston. The couple I previously mentioned and I would go and watch them play, hang out with them, drink a bunch of Shiners and have a great time.
Today I texted him. It took me forever to do it. I don't know what I was more afraid of - him not texting me back or what he would say when he did.
Everything has changed so much back there.
But he is still my friend. In fact, he says he was just thinking of me a couple of days ago.
The band is no longer. One was too busy with work, one just had a baby. He since joined another band and is currently looking for another to be part of.
My friend (the female part of that now-broken-up couple) is engaged and is no longer really friends with the rest of them anymore.
No one has heard from Mark.
They are all good and happy - and that's what matters to me. He's enjoying married life (he got married right after I came here and I knew he was), he's stopped drinking as much and things are good for him.
It was good talking to him - but all those memories - very painful memories - were brought back to the surface.
I wonder if I should contact her, should contact him - just to say hi and see how they are both doing? Or if there's a reason I don't have her number and email address anymore? Maybe this is a friendship that doesn't belong in my life anymore - but then she was a good friend to me when I really needed one.
I just hate when things end. I believe that friends are important - that good friends, close friends are even more so. I believe that people come into your life for a reason - and when they leave, it really is a painful thing. I especially hate when things end on a negative note because then that's the memory you keep - not all the good times. I don't think about all the fun things we did together - shopping at the Galleria, sushi, spending the night with her at her place while he was gone hunting for the weekend, live bands, etc. I think about how much hate she seemed to have for me in the end - and that I wasn't the "better man" on this occasion either.
Endings like this ... make it hard for me to let people close again ... make making friends even harder than usual. It makes me wonder if all things are meant to end. What a sad thought...
All humans really are potentially brothers and sisters,
if you choose to take the idea that far. Most folks are scared
to invest that much in others. The greatest opportunities,
even the entire value of life, can be devoured by that fear.
~Fearless Puppy on American Road by Doug Rose