I got three calls the night after my father passed away:
One from my ex-wife.
One from my ex-girlfriend.
One from Marce.
They weren’t good.
I don’t know, but the day after your father passes away, you do kind of expect a certain type of call. You know, condolences, I’m really sorry and all that. These weren’t like that
My ex-wife called me. Her voice sounded rough. Poor thing, she’d been going through a rough patch. By her breath-catchy heaving tone I knew that she had been crying. “I know you’re dad just died, but I’m having problems with __________ again, and I was wondering …” Okay, Things happen, I thought. I told her it was kind of a bad time. I tried my best to listen.
About an hour later, my ex-girlfriend called me. She asked me how I was, how I was doing, how she felt bad, but then her tone made an abrupt one-eighty from caring to sharp and accusatory. She brought up a girl who wasn’t even a friend of my mine and said “ … so those are the types of girls you like, right?”
My friend from high school, Marcelino, or Marce, sent me a private message via Facebook Messenger that wasn’t so private.
That was enough.
It was like a perverse inversion of the Ebenezer Scrooge tale.
You see the day my father passed away, the deal I made with myself, my body, my god, the Divine, kicked in. The deal was this: I promised that I would do everything in my power to see my father be as comfortable as possible, that he feel safe and secure, and most importantly, that I was not going to let him die alone.
And I did that.
For the three months that we all knew he was terminal with gall bladder cancer that had spread to his liver and chemo was not an option because his body was too weak from all the damage he suffered from his Chrons Disease, I held him and my mother together as best I could, despite the oncoming inevitibility.
I did that.
For the five years previous, I taught and fell in love with a single mother of two who had severe ADHD, severe anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and I did everything I humanly could to maintain that relationship.
I did that.
But after all that, my cup was overfull. I had no more room.
I was just not having it. I told off each one of them. I used my words. I’m very good at them – just ask my two exes. I cut them, and I cut them deep. And I cut them out of my lives. Eventually, over time, I tried my best at mending fences with the two exes.
Hit my thumb with the hammer most of the time, but I did what I could – especially when it came to my ex-girlfriend, Lindsey. I hated her timing, but I really couldn’t blame her anger. The stress of taking care of her and her family and my parents while my father was sick led my then-undiagnosed Major Depression and ADHD to take me down some very dark and toxic roads to find ways to deal, ways that my girlfriend could not forgive. Thankfully, three years later, all of that was addressed. Lindsey and I are still broken up, but now we’ve achieved understanding and forgiveness, and to be quite honest, it’s more than my old sorry ass deserves.
But Marce – Marce was a different story.
I just couldn’t. I am not going to get into the details of what went wrong. If you see me out somewhere and ask, maybe I’ll tell you, maybe I won’t. I’d venture to guess he’d say the same thing. He would try to reach out, but I never responded.
Marce and I were never close. We had a lot in common – but we were never close.
I first met Marce in freshman basketball. I remember him having some skill, but mostly I remember him being very uptight back then. I would have my little comments that I would say – to no one in particular – but Marce was pretty vocal about my comments.His face would pinch up and he would ask me why the hell I would say that, and then he would tell me to stop, because he found it annoying.
You see, I hate people like that. Uptight people who think they have the right to tell other people anything about the way they would talk. I always thought that was bad manners. I mean, come on – I have a pretty vast store of vocabulary in my head and I know how to speak English, but I also have my little jokes that I tell myself because I think they’re funny, but I would never criticize someone for talking a specific way – especially of they weren’t picking on me. Marce had no such distinction. So as soon as he criticized me for that, naturally, I did it more to annoy the hell out of him.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. I was told by one of the coaches that I was really bad at basketball, and they had to let me go – but I could still come to the practices and workout if I wanted. It was like being dumped by a girl, then having her tell me that we could still be friends.
I didn’t stay for practices very long.
The next time I met Marce, a whole year had passed, and we were already juniors. He had mellowed out some by then, enough to notice that we got along decently, and by chance, he started to hang out with some of the people I would hang out with. And we were able to spend enough time with each that we found we both had a lot in common.
We loved acting. We both shared a love of Mel Brooks’ classic comedies. We both really loved Val Kilmer’s Top Secret. We loved the ridiculousness of it, and we loved acting it out. We were both attention whores – each in our own way. We loved an audience and we played up to them – especially girls. We loved music – listening to it and playing it. We both shared a passionate love for U2, first and foremost, and then Sting, and then Grunge exploded, and we found our music.
So we shared these commonalities and a creative chemistry, but we were never close. He never confided his fears and worries to me, nor I to him. My best friend was Carlos. We confided in each other. Marce and I, on the other hand, clicked in a different way.
Usually it was fun. We’d go on trips between classes, walking down the hallways or the breezeways, cutting up, acting like we were straight out of Monty Python or Top Secret, copying riffs from HBO’s The Kids in the Hall – “I’m crushing your head!!!” — stuff like that.
NOTE: if you don’t know who The Kids in the Hall are, shame on you, when you’re done reading this, and you still find yourself on the interwebs, go to the YouTube, search The Kids in the Hall, watch, enjoy, repeat.
We were like Wayne and Garth, Beavis and Butthead, … I can’t think of any current “dude bromances” – #sorrymillenials.
I got him into acting – UIL One Act Play, we started an awesome UIL Improv team – and placed in our first events ever – we jammed, he played rhythm and I played drums. Marce was pure constant energy. He was fun. In retrospect, my Major Depression had a lot to do with how I reacted to him. Back then, I didn’t realize that my ADHD and Major Depression competed with each other, and that my energy levels came in waves – my highs were really high, and matched Marce’s toe-to-toe, but when my lows came and I needed to recharge silently his sometimes manic energy seemed too much and I got annoyed.
Of course, I knew none of this at the time. So the good aspects of me and Marce’s chemistry, would become the negatives at times. Creatively, we were each other’s Jordan and Pippin, switching roles depending on the situation. We sparked creatively and worked each other competitively to pick each other’s game up. But then my energy would give and the lethargy of my Major Depression would kick in, making me feel like he got the better of me creatively. My mood would sour, and I’d just pout out.
Added to that, my Major Depression made my lips heavy, so it kept me silent in high school. Any beefs I had – with Marce, or with others – I never addressed, leading a lot of people – even my friends, Marce, even my own family – to believe that I was a pushover. I never said anything to verbally defend myself. I merely held it all in and earned the reputation as having not even a pebble for a spine. I wouldn’t do what guys did – call him out or take the piss out of him. I just kept quiet, kept it in. That was not good. That became one emotional item in a growing storage box housed in an ever expanding warehouse of unaddressed issues.
But we kept on, inspiring each other creatively.
And then he introduced me to Ryan.
The first day we jammed together as a “band” – like all other significant firsts a person goes through in this life – was burned in my brain. I can recall every detail. This blue sports car pulls up – Camaro? I can’t remember … – and this skinny white kid with long blonde hair steps out, walks to the back of his car and brings his guitar and his amp. Marce played rhythm. I played drums. And Ryan waited, counted out the measures and got a feel for the tempo, and shredded on lead guitar. It was fantastic.
That was the birth of the Triumvirate. The connection Marce and I had as musicians was near telepathic. We knew when to change. We knew when to crescendo, when to decrescendo, when to slow the tempo, when to speed it up. And on top of that, Ryan wailed, simply wailed.
We were connected.