I always wanted to know how he was doing. Where was he living? Did he have a baby, yet? And was life treating him good? Not because I was in love with him, but mainly because I use to love him.
I’ll repeatedly ask the same questions to our mutual friends whenever I’ll run into them. But it was this one time, that made it quite different—I had received a voicemail from his high school BFF and his parents.
The tone of their voices were cheerful and full of life. They were calling to say hi and inviting me to hang out with them for drinks one day after work. It was great to hear from them, since it had been some years of absence. I recalled how youthful and direct his parents were and I couldn’t help but get excited to be able to reconnect.
It was too late to call back that night, so I had decided to return his parents’ call the next day—after work.
“Hey! I got y’all voice mail.” I giggled and said. Hoping to get the same reaction on the receiving end so I continued on with, “Sorry I missed it. Let’s meet up soon.”
After a few minutes of small talk, I revealed that I actually lived in a nearby neighborhood from them. His dad couldn’t believe it had been almost 6 months and I hadn’t stop by the house to check on them or anything; but in my defense he didn’t know that was I was suffering from depression since Julian’s death. And I decided not to bring it up either. I, simply, just agreed, “Yeah, I know. I’m so sorry. Do y’all still want to go out for drinks or dinner?”
And so we did.
That night, we sat at the bar tables picking at lobsters, sipping on drinks, and catching up on life. He shared that Malik was still living out of town in Philly, without a baby, nor girlfriend, and playing basketball on the side.
“Is he still good at basketball?” I asked, considering in high school and college, Malik was the local star. His dad jokingly replied that age had stripped away his skills. We both laughed and concluded the night with great conversations.
“Where have you been?” Buddah asked. “I went to dinner with Malik’s dad.” He didn’t respond.
“Yeah, I am here,” he spoke up and said.
“Are you mad? Seriously?” I scorned.
“Nah, I am good.”
Although I knew that deep down inside he wasn’t. Did he think I was still in love with him too? I thought yet refused to question. So we both sat on the receiving end of the phone in silence, until he said, “Imma call you back.”
That night, we parted ways with high levels of emotions and stress, which meant alcohol for me. Alcohol was my secret medicine, my healer, and bandaid to suppress the pain from an open wound that I hid from the world. No one knew how much I’d drink but the consumptions were enough for me to pass out. And when I’ll awake, I acknowledged that it was wrong, but doing it felt so good.
Days and weeks went by and things went back to normal in my relationship. We never spoke about Julian or my night out with Malik’s parent. Until one day, my high school friend called to share, “Did you hear the news? Malik got murdered in Philly.”
My heart dropped and my body went completely in shock. “What? You’re lying. I was just with his dad a few weeks ago and everything was fine.”
Despite what I wanted it be, this awful act was already done. A second friend, another ex-lover, a young black man, someone’s child, someone’s brother was dead.
Tears dripped inside of my heart while anger and confusion stretched across my face. I poured shots after shots, and had glasses after glasses of tequila while the mellow tunes of R&B filled the room and until my body went limped. The trauma I was enduring had created a functional alcoholic.
To Be Continued…