Your love for N64’s Super Smash Bros is astounding. Remember that one time I came to visit you at your friend’s house early on a Saturday afternoon? You had just started playing the game a little bit before I had gotten there, and I could hear the screaming voices behind the closed door at the top of the stairs. Somebody was shouting “Fuck you, Samus!” You were Samus. You still had four lives and you were winning. Buttons were forcefully being `pressed and combos were being made and Luigi was falling off of some green platform somewhere.
You would lose and then you would win again. Back and forth. I watched you play that game for so many hours and I was so puzzled by its mesmerizing hold over you. But I went with it, and I cheered when you won and I laughed just a little bit when you lost.
That wasn’t the first time I saw you high. I remember the first time. A few of us were sitting on the dock and talking. You emerged from the woods behind us with a friend on either side of you, leaves rustling louder as you came closer. All three of you were looking down, hands in jacket pockets, small coughs here and there.
You sat a few feet away from me, probably ashamed to show everyone (or just me) your eyes. But I searched for them and met them and said something sarcastic because they looked funny on you. A deep brown surrounded by bloodshot veins, heavy in the corners and pronounced when you looked around. Somebody tossed you the tiniest bottle of eye drops and said, “I think you might need this.” A drop or two here in the corner, a drop or two there. One ran down the side of your cheek and you wiped it off with the sleeve of your favorite black jacket.
How many times had you smoked before that? I recall it not being too many, but I wasn’t keeping track. It was a new relationship for you, a marijuana mistress seducing you into her haze, pulling you further in with her cloudy eyes and intoxicating smell.
She comes in when the time is right, and surrounds you with other people who will also meet her on the same level. Or you’ll be sitting on your bed—alone—and then she’s there, in between your ears and your headphones, and you start freaking out over dumb parts of some soothing song. Outside, she sits with you and begins to laugh and it continues, but soon you both forget what was happening, so you close your eyes and stop for a second. Try to remember. It’s like she momentarily took that joke away but once you open your eyes, she gives it back to you with her shaky, unsteady palm. All of a sudden, you’re laughing again.
When she’s with you, you melt into her mist and she carries you along to her favorite places, which are now your favorite places: the fridge, the back porch, the TV room with the N64 console that is always on.
She taught you to like carrots dipped in peanut butter and enhanced your love for grilled cheese. One time, I witnessed you eat a whole pint of frozen yogurt and thought you might be sick. Aren’t you kind of lactose-intolerant? But she calmed your stomach and when you met her again several hours later, she sat in the passenger seat next to you while you pulled through a McDonald’s drive-thru lane.
She makes your mouth open up just a little bit more when you’re trying to focus, if it’s figuring out a tune on the mandolin or re-reading the same paragraph a few times because you missed its message the first time around. Or when you’re sleeping. God, your mouth opens to new, unexplainable widths when you’re sleeping. Her snores become your snores.
In a way, she brings out your weird quirks. Remember that one time you found a balloon lying around, so you blew it up and drew a face on it? The Sharpie was beginning to run out, but you managed to hastily draw a mustache on the balloon-man’s face and you were so proud of your work. You held it up for everyone to see. I took the knit beanie off of your head and placed it on top of the balloon. You looked at me and said, “What should we name it?” Then, a friend sitting next to you whipped his head around, quicker than we could both comprehend. “Parmesan,” he said. “You should definitely name it Parmesan.”
You still joke about that name. She makes it easy to joke.
But there are some quirks you wear better that she isn’t able to provide. You still look weird without her, like when you wake up in the morning and that one curl in the front of your head sticks out. It’ll stick out regardless if she still lingers from the night before. She doesn’t help you to smooth it out. You get out of bed and go across the room, stand in front of the mirror that hangs on the back of your door. Our sleepy eyes meet in its reflection and you smile at me as you try to fix it, but I say something snarky about how you just sleep in a strange way. You tell me you sleep weird because I hog all the covers and sometimes jam my elbow into your side. I look away and pout. But then you come back, lie down next to me and tell me that it’s way better than sleeping alone.
And in that moment, she’s not around. She isn’t there in the sheets between us as you put your arm around my shoulder, pull me closer. I know she will leave the room when we talk about the serious things, or what we have to accomplish in the day ahead. When she’s gone, she doesn’t steal your focus.
So, she shuts the bedroom door behind her as she leaves. You don’t even notice her footsteps as she walks away from us, down the hallway and out the front door. You get up again briefly to put on your favorite Beatles record—Rubber Soul—and then climb back into bed with me. I smooth your hair and you look at me with clear, unclouded eyes. We talk about how underrated George Harrison is.
The National’s comedic documentary Mistaken for Strangers will be in theaters and out through iTunes on March 28. The 2013 movie was directed by its lead character, Tom Berninger, the younger brother of National frontman Matt…
Peach Kings - “Fisherman” (by JamintheVan)
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Scott Owen, owner and manager of W&M’s on-campus coffee shop The Daily Grind.
The piece was featured on William and Mary News—check it out in the link below! Comments/advice much appreciated.