"What I remember about you more than anything else is how alive existence seemed around you. Whatever we did together was charged with the energy of your personality, like you electrified the world. Almost all of my favorite memories of those days are the trips we took in my Explorer or drinking "Mudslides" at Awakenings [a local coffee shop I used to frequent, and a Mudslide is an espresso/mocha/chocolate blended iced drink thingy served there]. I've still never laughed harder than the time you were kicked out of the Shell station bathroom [reference to a catastrophic hair-bleaching incident when, to prevent some severe chemical burns on my scalp, I was forced to bathe fully clothed in a public fountain]. I miss you, Whit."For those who didn't know me in those late 90's/early 00's days, when I wasn't brightening the world with my electric personality or capturing the affections of petite brunettes with my brand of roguish seduction, most of my days were spent rescuing kittens stuck in trees and helping old ladies cross busy intersections. No, Brad, my chest has always stuck out this far. And you're wrong about me acting like a haughty asshole since reading that letter.
In truth, to read my personality being described as anything like energized is surprising. Although this could conceivably be true, I was 15 and 16 when I spent the bulk of my time with Jade. These were "post-drop out" years, years when my inexhaustible leisure time was dominated by activities like frying in the über-euphoric embrace of the drug Ecstasy, not exactly an activity conducive to electrifying the world around me. It was actually the pursuit of this drug which created the bond between Jade and myself. You see, those years were the peak of the techno/rave scene in the Midwest. Every weekend hoards of boys and girls filled with their small-town ennui would don ridiculously baggy clothes and neon jewelry and scuttle like so many rainbow cockroaches to random condemned warehouses or open, grassy fields where they consumed ungodly amounts of narcotics under the hippy-ish pretense of "becoming one with the music" that blasted out of a dozen massive speakers with such booming bass that light waves were bent from the force of the sound. "Becoming one with the music" too long at too close a distance can sometimes lead to becoming one with the poop running down one's leg as it seeps from one's mercilessly jarred bowels.
Traveling to these raves together was a perfect match for both of us, because what we could offer each other in regards to this activity was precisely what we respectively needed. I had information on where the best raves were and how to get in, as well as drug connections; she had a driver's license and a car. She had a great car, too - an almost-new Ford Explorer, the definitive American gas-guzzling behemoth, given to her by her "successful" parents as a sixteenth birthday present. Riding in a car Jade was driving was always a little unsettling. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but my friend apparently took driver's ed at "Carl's Discount Bumper-Car Academy" and the fact that she was able to pass the examination required to become the legal operator of a motor vehicle indicates a serious flaw in the State of Ohio's testing standards. Although the safety of a Ford Explorer's passengers is never seriously in question except in the rare instance of playing a game of chicken with a Sherman tank, riding in Jade's Explorer always carried with it the distinct possibility of becoming party to a vehicular homicide after Jade rolls over a Honda and its occupants as if they were no more than speed bump as she checks her mascara.
Her driving aside, Jade was a wonderful friend and we did have quite a few laughs together. Not too many in the raves we attended, though, so why those memories stick out to her is a mystery. It was around this time when my apprenticeship for becoming a selfish prick had just begun. My dancing probably had a lot to do with that fact. If anything about me could have been described as "electric," it would have certainly been my dancing. This was a small passion of mine back then. Except, while I certainly displayed vigor and unselfconscious enthusiasm every time I hit the floor, my particular style could only be described as comedically horrible. The visual juggernaut which were my dance moves is impossible to properly explain in words. But I'll say at least that my repertoire consisted mainly of a series of coordinated leg movements, skipping kicks, jerky arm thrusts, flamboyant spins and body rotations which varied depending on the direction my hat was facing. Maybe I was actually so bad I was good, because I always received compliments which didn't seem to be at all patronizing or sarcastic. Or perhaps a side-effect of MDMA is the inability to read sarcasm.
While my dance floor convulsing alone would be enough to make any person wish they could say "Yeah, I'm with him," our raving adventures hardly seem to me to be exceptionally fond memories. The sometimes eight-hour drives to venues were always filled with a sort of giddy excitement which made everything vibrate, but the raves themselves now seem shallow, adulterated and somewhat meaningless because they all orbited around the drool-inducing effects of a drug. A few smiles and a couple of laughs come to mind, but I mostly see those experiences as an assemblance of teenage make-out sessions, dilated pupils and hearing damage. Whatever spark I may have had during those days must have been from caffeine, because some of my fondest memories from that period, as Jade said, were of sipping House Blend in our polished coffee shop and just generally being a nuisance. It's strange what seems significant almost decade later.
Man, the last month has been a tsunami of remembrance in my head with all of the blasts from the past via U.S.P.S. The last month has been a great month for mail period. Fairly often a feeling of disconnectedness overtakes me after being deprived of things like visits and phone calls for so long. To everyone who's taken the time to write me a letter or post a comment or even just think an encouraging thought about me: Thank you so much! Because of you I feel connected again and remember what to strive for; what to look forward to.