Monday, October 31, 2016

All Hallow's Eve

I don't remember if it rained that Halloween. The weather outside was not the issue. It was the weather inside that was the issue: dark and stormy with a one hundred percent chance of grief. We were mourning the loss of our roommate and beloved fellow traveler on the highway of fun which came to an abrupt end the week before. What better way to commemorate the end of the party by throwing one?
We started early, with our tribute to our fallen friend, before dinner. We were drinking before the first guests arrived. If we did eat, it was the Cheetos that we had dragged home along with all the alcohol we could carry. When it came to dragging alcohol home, we were champs. When at last there was a knock on the door, the first in a steady stream of well-wishers and fellow mourners began to file in. We had done this dozens of times before, but never with a dead guy as the focus. Parties were a way of life in that apartment. Work and school were just annoying interruptions sprinkled into the cycle of festivals we maintained. No weekend was too long or too short, and if Bruce Springsteen's birthday fell on a weeknight, our neighbors would just have to understand.
There was also the little matter of our lease. When we moved in, we were splitting the rent three ways, with a little larger share taken on by our departed friend because he got his own room. Now we were faced with the potential of having to make up that difference ourselves. As a full-time student, part-time video store employee and itinerant hungry drunk boy, I knew that the chances of me figuring out a way to swing that was out of the question. Unless that question started with, "Mom and Dad?"
So there was this thought, not a clear one, but a thought that if we simply ratcheted up the misbehavior a notch or two that we might be asked to leave rather than begging for release from our commitment. We had already done this, showing up to the leasing office with our grim faces, sackcloth and ashes. Our landlord wasn't flinching. This was a college town, after all, and the middle of a semester was not the time to have an empty apartment. The company wouldn't allow it. Policy, and all that.
It was with this corporate torment along with our very real grief that we hit the dance floor in our living room that night. We raged into the night, conspicuously aware of our predicament: We were survivors. Though we wore this distinction as a badge of honor when it suited us, but its weight dragged us down. Finally, when everyone else had filed out, toasts made and tears shed, we were left in that wreck of a living room. Alone again. Sometime just before noon the following day we made our way into the light of a new day, a new month, and began collecting the bottles, cans and crushed Cheetos that bore witness to our attempts to pierce the veil. We couldn't bring our friend back, and we couldn't dull the pain. We were stuck right where we were.
A month later, our landlord agreed to let us go. Apparently the chance to get in and hose down our apartment to get it ready for the next crop of underclassmen felt opportune for them. There was no eviction. There was no cathartic last bash to send the demons packing. We packed up our stuff and moved to separate corners of the city: me on the south, my friend on the north. Though we got together from time to time to experience the wild times one more time, it never felt quite like that Halloween.

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