i appreciate the love, yo.

i look at old essays i wrote from high school, and i didn't have a clue what i was saying then. these were essays i had written freshman year for history, and i wasn't even stoned then. no, those days i hadn't even tried weed. those were the days i wore short black gym shorts and i didn't want to step in the shower because my classmates might walk by, point at my penis and laugh, and then i'd have a complex forever. so i'd shower with my boxer shorts on, and then i'd sit in my third period history class with wet boxers. this went on for a full year.

why did i get stoned? i didn't like losing control of my emotions, but at the time, it was something to do. weed was always around, and it was free. i'd get stoned, and i'd watch tv, or i'd try to play the guitar, and i would laugh and laugh and laugh, laugh at my stupid, miserable existence. i'd come home from school and then i'd look at porn, some site called purextc.com that had all kinds of nasty, humiliating pictures. who did homework when there were tits to be seen?

i'd get high and i'd look at porn and i'd fall asleep. that's what my high school education was about. i'd go on these mandatory retreats, and the retreat leaders and upperclassmen would tell me about god and their relationship with god and their relationships with others, etc. i believed then that those were real bonding experiences. some of my classmates would pat me on the back or put me in a headlock and it would all be very gay and friendly. and i thought then that i was going to have friends.

i mean, sure, i had friends. but what were friends, really, other than guys who also liked to smoke weed and look at porn and sleep the days away? we'd look at maxim magazines and watch basketball games (go kings!) and listen to records. we'd dream about the day things would stop sucking, when we could move away and be adults and not have to take any more bullshit orders. we'd sit around drunk and laugh and talk about how we've been "boys" since "day one." whatever the fuck that meant.

and then i went on kairos, the big hush hush retreat that all seniors went on. marty said he'd never met his dad, matt said he'd wanted to kill himself, and brian blew all his money on strip clubs every weekend. it was all very emotional and intense, and it was supposed to mean something. i forgot what i said, though. i think i had said something about feeling alone, feeling alienated. they told me i had to step out of my comfort zone and that i was actually an interesting person and that they were always shocked when i said some deep insightful shit, like in english class with mrs. ellis.

i didn't think anyone had paid attention before that. i didn't think anyone gave shit. it made me feel real good then, to think that maybe they were right. maybe i did have good things to say and i wasn't just a loser burnout fat asian kid like i had always thought i was. i trusted those guys. i asked matt to hang out once, but he said he was busy. months later, i saw brian at tower, but he didn't even recognize me. he was too busy looking for some rap cassettes. and years later, marty worked with my cousin at the state, and he told her that i should "kick it" with him some time. i didn't "kick it" with him. instead, i said to my cousin, "that was a long time ago, marty."

i had other friends, but then we had a falling out, and i didn't try to keep in contact. i kept burning bridges, one after the other, and then, when i'd run out of kerosene, i'd wonder why i was all alone. "ha! we don't talk to pete anymore," i said once. "man," claire said, "no one is going to come to your wedding." who wanted to get married, anyway? who wanted friends? weren't they always just going to let you down, build you up, make you think you were good, and then spit in your face? was that really the way it was going to be?

senior year, i was at a dance, sitting at one of the tables by myself. the guys i had come with decided that, even though all of us had gotten detention for trying to leave early, that they would make the most of their time. they went to the dance floor and jumped around and clapped their hands or whatever people did. me, i just sat at a table and tried to look pathetic. some nice looking girls walked by and they said, "hey," and i said, "hey" back, and that was that. then, these younger kids, freshman probably, took my picture, laughed, and walked away.

i smiled for them anyway. what else could a person like me do in a situation like that but smile?

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