8 years ago.

Eight years ago. Weird.

In 1988, I couldn’t remember 1980. In 1998, as I was finishing high school and starting college, 1990 seemed like almost a half-a-lifetime ago (that’s almost a joke). But now, in 2008, I think of the year 2000 and it feels like it were only a few weeks ago. At least the number feels recent. When I really think about what happened on February 4, 2000, I feel old and lonely. Well, no, I feel excited and relieved, too.

To be clear, I have no idea what actually took place on this day in 2000. But I checked, and it was a Friday. So let’s guess. It was my 4th semester of college. I had most of my classes on MWF, and one on TR. I think by this date I would have stopped going to my 8 a.m. Logic class. And if I hadn’t stopped going to my Computer Skills class yet, I would start shortly . . . actually, this would have been 3 or 4 weeks into the semester, so yes, I was no longer going to my computer skills class. Within a week or two, I would stop going to my Composition class, too. It was that annoying one where the whole class was based around writing one research paper. So I probably got up late, went to lunch with friends, went to my Government class, then went to work.

Braden 19I drove a 1991 Geo Storm Gsi (see “Voices of the Masses” below). It was called the Rude Mobile. I was working at Kohl’s, at the registers. That was the meaning of “easy job,” let me tell you. I got paid to stand around and flirt with girls all night. That’s where I met one of my now-closest friends, too. He would become the drummer in my band. Actually, as of this date 8 years ago, he already was in my band, and had been for a couple weeks. There was this weird tension between him and the lead guitar player, because the lead guitar player’s girlfriend had broken up with him many months before, eventually started dating this drummer guy, and then broke up with him and started going out with the guitar player again, a few days after which the drummer joined our band. That drama’s really funny because within a year of all this, the fact that she had ever even dated the drummer was a weird thought to everyone. Now she’s married to some other guy she met at SIU and living in South Carolina or something. And that guitar player’s living in Waukesha, Wisconsin, avoiding phone calls from me. And the drummer’s in Springfield, Illinois, not enjoying himself. I don’t blame him. That place is flat.

I think the girl I liked was named Lindsey. She would eventually be come as “The Nope Girl,” because I asked her out one time and she said, “Nope.” Actually, that’s not really what she said. She said, “um, no . . .” in an, “oh my god that came out of nowhere, and why is this guy so creepy?” tone. I don’t remember how the “nope” thing started, but it did and the story was re-written to fit it. Shortly after all this I would shift to liking a different girl named Annie. One day in the school’s parking lot I asked if she wanted to come hear my band practice, and I made a deal with her, “If you like us, I get to take you out this weekend. But if you don’t like us at all . . . I’ll make it up to you by taking you out this weekend.” She thought that sounded like a good deal, so I took her out that weekend, and apparently she didn’t realize that I asked her out on a date. We ended up spending the majority of the night with some of her other guy friends, and at the end of the night I explained my original intentions and she was a little shocked, a little more uncomfortable, but mostly non-reciprocal. Things were awkward around her for a few months after that, and then she vanished and I have no idea where she went. Well, I have an idea that she went to California like she said she wanted to. But I don’t really know.

I can’t remember if I was smoking then or not. That might have been one of my smoke-free eras. If it was, I wouldn’t start again until that following December . . . which is way too long, so yes, I had to have been smoking then. My brand was likely Kamel Red Lights, or maybe Camel Wides. Who knows. I had never been drunk. I was an all-talk, no-walk P.K. If you don’t know what a “P.K.” is, tough.

My parents had just bought me a TV for my bedroom that previous Christmas. I was not happy about it. I specifically did not ask for one because I knew what would happen. And it did. I spent a lot of nights being up until 3 or 4 in the morning watching TV, playing Medieval and Final Fantasy Tactics (I wouldn’t beat that quest I started in Tactics for another 4 1/2 years). I’d wake up and start playing or watching again. Then I’d miss my Logic class or Computer Skills class (see 3rd paragraph). In just under 3 months, I would receive a phone call from my dad at the drummer’s house during band practice, and he’d tell me that he received a letter from my college in the mail confirming that I dropped all but one of my classes, and he’d then tell me that I was out of the house. The next morning at 7 a.m. I would wake up to my mom opening my door saying, “Get up and get out. Take what is yours and only what’s your’s.” So began some events of which I will discuss the uniqueness in my next blog.

By the way, February 4, 2100 will land on a Thursday. We’ll probably be dead.

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