This weekend at dinner we were all telling stories about silly things said after epic nights of drinking. Those hangover moments when everything hurts and you are convinced that death is nigh, or at the very least, that you will. never. drink. again.
So I told the story about a friend back home who came into work at the Best Buy one morning and looked at me as we set up the Home Office department (this means something different to me now) and very sincerely said, “Carolyn, I think I sprained my liver. Is it possible to sprain your liver?” And everyone around the table howled with laughter, remembering past declarations laced with shoddy knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and probably imagining those yet to come as we all limp towards middle age, aspirin bottles in hand. And I sat there feeling guilty as I finished the story in my head:
About a month later, I said to myself, this same friend drove his motorcycle into the front end of a mini van while foolishly passing a car on a curve. He died. I hate motorcycles now, because I always think of him and how much he loved his and how stupid it made him. And telling this story makes me feel tremendously guilty because even though I remember him and that moment with such total fondness, it was still told at his expense.
But of course, I didn’t say that. It’s not the kind of thing you say at a party, no matter how true, and I already have a habit of saying awkward things at parties. So I’ve just been thinking about that friend since then. He was such a sweet kid. Probably, if he was still alive I wouldn’t even know where he was now, I don’t keep in touch with many people from my days at Best Buy, but I know that they’re all out there somewhere, with families and lives and plans, whereas Justin will always be this sweet 21-year-old stuck in the limbo of 1997 and the memories of a group of people who barely know each other anymore.