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Unexpected Happy Memories in a Box of Camel Turkish Golds.

Unexpected Happy Memories in a Box of Camel Turkish Golds.

Things happen in life that we have no control over. Car wrecks, for example. While theoretically we hold control over our automobiles, unexplainable forces actually govern the dynamics of auto transit. And periodically those dynamics go haywire. So we do what we can to cope with the day-to-day frustrations of things that are beyond our control and end up trying to control the singular thing we have no business trying to control: other people.

It’s probably a really good idea to clue you in on something right now. I’m obsessive compulsive. I am highly narcissistic, and I am a megalomaniac. (These aren’t my words, they are the words of two therapists.) The upside of this interesting, if volatile, cocktail of neuroses is that when I’m in a good mood (which we’ll call the Manic state), I’m a hoot to be around. I liven up the dullest of conversations with a razor wit, charming banter, and my delightfully entertaining disposition. However, this wonderful set of labels comes with a dark side, which we’ll call my depressed state. (No, I’m not Manic-Depressive, though I almost got labled that once, too.) In this depressed state, I am mean. People don’t like me. Of course, who likes to be around someone depressed? But there’s more. I am rude and mean, sharp-tongued, and amazingly irritating.

It is this last state that I was in two years ago, for over two months. Let’s write it off to a combination of factors. First, there was the girlfriend, who really was MDBP but won’t admit it. Her mother, who refused to let us see one another. And the job from hell: helpdesk. (We’ll save that for another day.) In the midst of all of this was the one person I truly regret having put in the unenviable position of roommate.

But she was more than a roommate. She was the Grace to my ultra-heterosexual-Will. If I had been Jesus (Messiah complex anyone?), she’d have been my Peter. (Read the last chapter of Matthew all you Pagan people, and remember that in Greek, Petras is Rock.) We were hardly ever seen with out the other close by, we shared thoughts, conversations, dreams, and on most occasions a brain. Frankly, she was the single best friend I ever had.

And every single thing that was wrong in my life, every red light that was too long, every dollar I fell short, or every time I talked to my ex-wife, I took out on her. Amazingly, she took it. Stood there, took it. For a while.

I left town, thought it would be over, but we kept in touch. It wasn’t until I got *back* to Monroe that I managed to royally screw up our friendship. Two weeks after my arrival, in fact, we were no longer on speaking terms. Why? Because I’m a control freak who is intent on things always going my way. When I failed to realize that my best friend had developed her own life in the four months I was in Austin, I was like the Duke in Moulin Rouge (130 for those counting), shouting “My way, my way!!!” and aiming the gun at the deepest, most important bond I’d ever formed with someone I wasn’t genetically connected to.

Well, today, as I was leaving my mother’s, she is heading to her car. (They live in the same block.) She dropped her violin into the trunk of her car, folded herself onto the steps outside her apartment, and went to light up a cigarette. I asked if I could join her, she said yes.

And the damnedest thing happened: she took out a box, as I was taking out a box, of Camel Turkish Golds. I smiled to myself for a second. She looked up knowing full well what that smile meant.


I showed her the box. She rolled her eyes and shrugged, as if to say, “That figures.”

I sat down, lit a cigarette, and talk to her for the better part of twenty minutes. We talked about the weather (I know, cliche), cats –hers and mine, her classes, symphonies. For twenty minutes it was almost like old times. Alas, the moment ended and we got in our respective cars and drove to our respective destinations. When I got home, I turned on the CD player, blasted the SurroundSound up about four notches, and smoked another butt to the mellow, infectious tones of Natalie Merchant.

I think I may save that box of cigarettes and take them out on rainy days or when life isn’t going my way. On days when I am short on money, have a fight with someone at work, or can’t quite get over a hump in a story, I’ll strike a match, light up one from the special box of memories, and try to remember exacty why it is that the night belongs to lovers.