“But then they danced down the street like dingledodies and I shambled after as usual as I’ve been doing all my life after people that interest me, because the only people that interest me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.”Jack Kerouac, On the Road: The Original Scroll
I have best friends that I’ve known since I was four, friends who know everything about me, who I constantly keep in touch with. I have friends I don’t talk to for countless months at a time and can still pick up right where we left off. Friends who I can have a single conversation with for hours at a time. Friends with whom I have genuine conversations about shampoo.
I had my group in high school, the fun, wholesome geeks. I’m not really sure how I ended up with them. Our little clique was a puzzle and we were all just trying to fit in where we could. Pieces were always coming and going. Being included and discarded. I was that awkward little piece whose place was never found, despite numerous attempts to wedge myself in. The puzzle was fine without me.
All these years later, I’ve kept a few souvenir pieces. After many high school friends quietly fell off my radar, several stuck in there. Those are the friends who know me intimately simply because it’s been so long, who I don’t really have to tell anything, because somehow, they kind of just know. They’re the ones who are the most protective and judgmental, because they were there for the bad times.
Then there are my Portland friends. The group that I managed to drunkenly infiltrate and become part of. They’re the friends I wish I’d found sooner. The ones who fit together so well. They were clever and quick, their conversations were duels of insults and wit.
They just got it.
The first time I met Matt and Nate, they were dressed as Wayne and Garth and were bowing down to me. It was Halloween, and I was their Khaleesi. That’s the group who met me at my worst and liked me anyway. The ones who loved to argue, whose conversations consisted of slinging insults and shit eating grins. They were elitist, judgmental, and weird. They liked me and accepted me, strange looks, random comments, drunk crying, and all. Those were the friends I never knew I’d always been looking for.
They’re the friends who made sure I was around.