Memories From the Balcony – A Look Back with Love for My Old Friends

Sure, I get it.
I was wild. I get that my youth was not pretty (to some) and I get that my stories might be either too crazy or even too disturbing.
I get that too.
But then again, to each is own. While I do not live in my past or rally in the shooting stars of my youth; still, my beginnings are my beginnings and the people I knew are the people I will remember for always.
Man . . . there was a time when we would have gone to war for each other.

I’m not sure when it was or how this happened. I can say that yes, there were moments when we were all together as friends yet none of us knew that this would be the last time that we would be all together at the same time.
No one expects their crowds to split up. To be clear, when you’re young, no one ever expects to get old or lose their hair.
No one ever thinks about the future because the future is just too far away.
No . . .
When you’re young, there’s literally an endless supply of tomorrows. At the same time, when you’re a kid or when you’re young enough to howl and carry on, there is nothing else but the moment at hand. There’s no one else but the circle you’re in.

Nothing is more important than the time. Nothing is more important than running at the speed of light and being out-loud and alive. When it comes to the memories that we made, I swear that we look back and we shake our heads.
I swear that we wonder how we made it out alive.
I swear that if our kids did anything like we did when we were young, we’d have a heart attack.
We’d die right there on the street if we saw our kids do anything close to what we did.

I can remember this with both a sentiment of love and a perspective of regret.
I can remember the nights when I climbed out of my bedroom window and onto the roof of my home. My room was above the garage, which led me up to the top peak of my home. I can remember sitting on the roof of my house with a fresh pack of Marlboros. I’d look up at the sky.
I’d look out and around at my little town.
I’d light my smoke and inhale that first drag. Then I’d blow the smoke up into the wind; as if to defy the skies and the heavens. Sometimes I’d take a sip from a flask. Sometimes I’d be wild-eyed and alone; but at the same time, I was in the company of Lucy in the skies which is a metaphor for the psychedelic responses that come with LSD. But please, . . .
Please be forewarned that I do not promote nor do I condone my drug use or any drug use for that matter. However, I do acknowledge that in youth, recklessness and wildness are often part of the game. This was my game. I dared the edge. I dared the corner of the razor a few times. I had the wounds and the scars to prove it, which means I used to bleed out loud. I was a rebel and a poet. I was hopeful and doubtful and at constant odds with myself.

I’d love to say that youth is innocent. And partly, youth is definitely innocent. But youth is also a time for processing new information.
This includes new pains. This includes new experiences. This includes new feelings and, to be more clear, the items on my list ranged from losing your first girlfriend or finding out the person that you like is a person that doesn’t like you back – at least not in the same way. I was always trying to find myself but I never knew that I was right there, right in front of me, the whole time.
I remember trying to like someone so I could have status too.
But who I like never liked me back – at least not in that way.
But hey, we can still be friends, right?
Ever hear this?
Or, how about, “I do like you , . ,  as a friend.”

I have always loved the idea of love. I’ve loved this even when I was young and even before I knew what love is; I’ve always loved the idea of loving someone or something so much that nothing else would count.

Speaking about roofs . . .
I have always had this fascination about rooftops. I like being above the world.
I like the idea of standing on top of the world and being closer to the sky. I like to tell my thoughts to the stars and let the moon look down on me – as if the moon and me, we go back, as in way back, as in before now, as in before the times when the world became divided into versions of status and popularity. Yes, the moon, she knows me. She knew me then and she knows me today.

I have always appreciated the solo moments as if to create my own dialogue or soliloquy, talking to myself like Hamlet did when he said, “to be or not to be. That is the question.”
And me . . .I had a lot of questions. I always have and I always will.
I must have calculated the hours and contemplated the world a thousand times over on that roof.

I never wanted to fit in a mold or conform or be like I was told. At the same time, I admit that I was afraid to emerge.
I was afraid to evolve. I was afraid to show my colors or be different.
I say this because in fairness to my fear as well as being loyal to the aspects of my rage; I have always been afraid that something about me was either off-center or off the meter. I was afraid that something about me was undesirable and no one wants this.

Come to think of it; I spent a good portion of my young life, teaching myself to endure pain.
This way, nothing could ever hurt me.
I spent decades running from truths. I spent night times on rooftops contemplating the different variables of life.
I wondered what my life would be like if I grew up just one town over or what my room would look like if I grew up in a different house. 

Ah, this was me and my angst.
I suppose this is why I fit in with a pack of wild ones. I suppose this is why I found myself with the crazy kids, the angry ones, and the rebellious. I suppose this is why we drank and we smoked at a young age.
We wanted everyone to see our middle fingers, like “FUCK YOU” world.

But when you’re young and when you hang onto your little rebellions and your scars, you make your way through the world with your shield and your sword. When you find your personal image or brand of personality that you can hide behind (to keep you safe), you tend to flock with the same like-minded people. 
That’s exactly what I did.
I fell in line with the bozos of my town. We were the wild knuckleheads. We were the local hoodlums and the little write-ups in the local paper. We wore our uniforms and we fit into our perspective positions in the group. We had the helicopters chase us through the towns.
We were the town’s “Outsiders” and me, I was just trying to “Stay gold.”

I don’t think I was ever a leader.
I know that I was loud though.
I was loud enough for the world to see that I was on the edge. I was wild.
I was a threat. I was a force to be reckoned with and, above all things, as tough as I tried to be – I was a scared kid.
I was just hoping no one pulled the curtains to see that I was a second away from wetting my pants or crying about my fears of the dark.

I don’t know when it was, at least not exactly.
I don’t know if we knew this was about to happen, but there was a day that came and went. Afterwards, none of us were ever in the same place at the same time again – at least not like then. Not like we were.

I often see social media posts about my old friends who have grown and have families now.
I smile with pride and then I laugh because I remember them too. 
I remember running through the neighborhood, fleeing the scenes of our mischief and jumping fences to get away from names like Officer Flowers or Officer White. 

We’ve all gone off in different directions now.
Not all of us did well. Not all of us survived.
But no matter what, I will never forget who I was or where I came from.
I will never allow myself to lose sight of who I am (or was) or to be so big or self-important.

I remember when Baco reached out to me for help.
We talked for a little while but he had a sickness that wouldn’t let him go.
He was on the program for a while but the anticipation of withdrawals were too much for him to consider.
He called me and left a message. Said he wanted to give it another go.
Said he wanted to try talking again.
Said he wanted to do something different this time.
I didn’t call him back.

Baco died the next day, on his birthday no less.
I will never not return an important call like that again, even if for no other reason than to let an old friend of mine know, “I love you.”

Say hello to heaven, my friends.
Look down on me with a smile when you can.

Tell Dorian and Jeff that I miss them.
Tell Tommy and Wally that I hope they’re glad to be together again. 

Say hello to Craig for me. Let Mike know I’m glad we had the chance to see each other once more.
Tell Brett that I’m sorry we didn’t talk the last time we saw each other.
Send Joey my best and the same to Chris. 

I don’t know when we’ll all be together again,
I just know there was a time when I howled at the moon and I am proud to say that I had you boys with me to howl at the same time.

Sleep well, my old friends.

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