Single Status Update
This is my “confession.” I’m sorry I took so long to write this, it’s just that I haven’t been able to find time to write it. I should have realized that the best place for me to write it was a work, so that’s what I finally did.
I am a laser technician. I got my degree at Texas State Technical College, Waco, where I lived in an apartment on campus. In the fall of 2003 I graduated, but I didn’t have a job so I had two choices: stay and learn some more pertaining to my field as well as another technology, or go back to Georgetown to bum around until I got a job. I decided to stay and take a high level course in LET, as well as some MET classes. If I got a job, I’d drop out, but learning as much as I can while I could still sounded better than doing nothing.
At the end of the semester, my roommate was sort of kicked out, and I was glad that I didn’t have to live with him anymore. I asked if I was going to be assigned a new roommate at the beginning of the semester when I went to pay my rent, and they told me no. I felt a lot better about not having a roommate, because on that campus it could have been anybody. My friend Richard had such a bad experience with roommates that he ended up taking his trailer from home and moving in to an RV park down the road from school. I guess I was lucky, since I had halfway decent ones compared to him. My last one, however, I couldn’t stand. I didn’t think I could take one much worse than him.
A rough week passed, a week of sorting out classes and going back and forth from the campus VA office to the MET and LET department offices. On Friday I went home, like I always did, because I was too bored to stay there at school and I always had the excuse that I could work on my Eagle Limited while I was in Georgetown, even though I didn’t get to mess with it much. It was a pretty average weekend, and a pretty average drive back to Waco. I pulled into the parking lot and looked up into the front window of my apartment. The lamp on the end table was on. I knew what that meant, but I didn’t know how much it would mean until later on. It was more of a beacon than a sixty watt incandescent light bulb; it was a light at the end of the tunnel. It would be a great deal of time before I finally saw it that way.
With a little reluctance I got my things and headed upstairs. I walked in and walking by the second bedroom I looked in. There was a guy sitting in the chair at the built in desk in front of his desktop computer. He was quite thin, wore small glasses, black work boots, and had long hair that had been dyed blonde at some point. We introduced ourselves and I unlocked my door and carried my stuff into my room. We talked a bit about school, I told him about my situation, and apparently he started school a week late. I gave him some pointers about how to deal with some of the aspects of the system there, and about the apartment, since I had already finished my two years there and had a lot of it down pretty well.
We certainly had one thing in common, and that was computer games. During my spare time at TSTC I spent a lot of time on ZSNES and FCE Ultra, as well as Half Life, Powerslide, Interstate ’76, ’82, and Nitro Pack. His favorite SNES emulator was SNES 9X, and he showed me how you could fast forward with it in Harvest Moon. He showed me a bunch of games he had, and I showed him some stuff on Interstate. We talked about console games, and he actually played and ruled a few that we had at one point taken interest in like Goldeneye and Bomberman 64. There was one game though that I have never played, except on the SNES console one day:
The first thing he showed me was a demo of a deathmatch that he had on Doom Legacy on the very last day of high school with seven other people.
“Man, that’s the way to do it,” I told him, “I just took some tests and left.”
He tore the people from his class up pretty bad. He then showed me a co-op he had with a couple other people on Scythe map 30, also on Doom Legacy. He told me Legacy was a source port, and ZDoom was his favorite, though it didn’t work very well online. He showed me all kinds of stuff involving Doom. Map editors, more demos, megawads, including Mock 2, which I thought was pretty funny, even though I didn’t fully understand what it was compared to all of the other wads.
Whenever I got bored, I would go into his room, sit there on the floor at the foot of the bed and he would show me stuff on his computer, which he seemed to be glad to do so. We’d talk about all kinds of stuff. He seemed to be pretty content, though emotionally detached, which made me a little worried. He didn’t seem depressed, and he performed really well in school, but I could tell that he had a rough time at some point in life.
It wasn’t until one night while watching this really tripped out art . . . thing on PBS did he tell me about how he came from a broken home. Sometimes I need to be reminded that even though I had a rough time back when I was in high school my problems are petty compared to others. At least he had a foundation to never use illegal substances from his personal experience with someone close around him. I admired his resilience, since it all didn’t seem to get to him.
One day we finally got internet access. The cost of cable internet was $15/month because of the student discount, and if I knew that I would have gotten internet a long time ago. Before that the only internet I had was at my house in Georgetown, and if I wanted to take something back to Waco I had to save it onto a floppy or burn it onto a CD. To me it wasn’t a real big deal, since a few kilobytes of ROMs could keep me entertained for a fairly long time.
Before we got internet, since we set an appointment with Road Runner Cable to come out a long time before they finally did, I bought a $60 combination hub/router so that we could share the connection. He had been complaining about not having internet, so when we finally did I joked with him about how everyone he chatted with thought he was dead for a month.
We set up a small home network and shared some files. He put some files in his directory and told me to copy them to my computer and to install some of the ports off of the internet. Then we played Doom II co-op on Legacy, and he flew ahead while I stumbled behind, since I never played it before. Of course, he got bored on map 06, as most people do in Doom II co-op so we quit. After that I started to play the Doom games in single player on ZDoom, which is how I became familiar with them.
He turned out to be the best roommate I ever had. We had fun just hanging out there in the apartment. By the time I got a job and was about to move out, I only had three real friends in the world, and I felt ready to accept him as a fourth.
- - - - -
One day he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride with him to his favorite club back in Dallas.
“Sure, why not,” I said.
We went out to the parking lot and walked out to his car, which was an old Maverick.
“Wow, I didn’t know this was your car,” I said.
I had seen it out there for a while, but every semester there’s a whole new fleet of cars in the parking lot, and by the end of the semester there’s only a handful. The car was a light blue color, and it looked a little tired, but it amazingly had all of the original hub caps.
“For some reason I always thought these were neat,” I added, “and I never knew anyone who had one. What’s funny is that they look a lot like the AMC Javelin, but I don’t know which one came first.”
“Yeah, this thing has always been kept in a garage,” he said, “It used to be my grandma’s, and she practically gave it to me for a graduation present.”
“That’s cool. My car was pretty cheap but it was really broken down when I bought it. It’s a project car, though.”
“Heh, well, let’s go.”
On the way there we didn’t talk much. Dallas was about an hour’s drive up I35 through open plains of yellow grass, but it didn’t seem that long. I noticed he had his hair in a scrunchie, which he always did, so normally I didn’t think anything of it. At that point though I thought it was a little feminine, and I remembered he was always playing with his hair while chatting on his computer, but I felt that’s who he was and he was cool all the same.
Once we got there we walked up to the front door and he told me something that I couldn’t believe.
“Okay, now before we go inside, you need to know that the people in here all think I’m a girl.”
“It’s not what you think . . . it’s a long story, but just try not to blow my cover.”
“Um, ok . . . lemme just wait outside for a minute.”
“Ok, well I’ll be inside.”
I stood there thinking about what he just said and what that could possibly mean. I didn’t know if I could go inside with that on my mind. I looked around outside. It was getting late and lonely outside. After leaning against the building for a long time I finally decided I should just go in, so I did.
The first thing I noticed is that the place was pretty old. It was dark, with hard wood floors that creaked under your feet, though it was fairly large and a very well established place to hang out. One day it looked like it was going to need to be remodeled . . . or will it? Many older things are better built, with better materials, though with older hand tools. It was almost hard to tell what was original and what had been added on since whoever made it made it blend in really well.
It was certainly popular, too. It was comfortably crowded and it didn’t take long to see who the regulars there were. I also noticed people here talked more than they drank. This was more of a pub than a bar, if anything. It was alive, alive with its own aura. This was definitely the place to be. Rather than look around for my roommate, I decided to sit down and order a drink. Once in a while I would look up, and I could see him, but he looked like he was well into it with other people so I just chilled out at the bar, trying to blend in, though in the back of my mind I knew I stood out. It didn’t bother me, though. I had another drink.
I quickly noticed how he could be mistaken for a girl. In this kind of lighting and noise level, I may have mistaken him for a girl. The only reason though would be because he’s a little soft spoken and he has sort of long hair. Heck, he may be under the pretense of a female because someone mistook him for one and he went along with it as a joke, but then became trapped in the joke through some misunderstanding. That kind of thing happens all the time, and sometimes you just have to go along with it for as long as possible so that you don’t cause any conflicts. In the back of my mind, however, I knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep up this charade forever, but it wasn’t any of my concern.
I realized that after my fourth drink I needed to slow down. I hadn’t even been there that long and I was already getting drunk. Then I made the poor decision to try to mingle with the crowd. There was a group of people that had been going on for a while and I thought I had heard the whole conversation. Apparently I didn’t, because when I made a comment about what they were all talking about one of them snapped at me for butting in without knowing what they were talking about. I was ready to punch his face right in, but I somehow caught myself and backed off, because I didn’t want to cause trouble, especially with someone who appeared to be pretty well respected. Next time, I reminded myself, don’t butt in unless you heard everything said, and especially not while you’re so drunk.
I sat back down at the bar, keeping my eyes peeled for my roommate, but I didn’t see him anywhere. I sat there and thought about how much things have changed. Graduation, moving, getting a job, a place to live, all of these were inevitable realities that I had to face, just as everyone does when they get older. The only thing that made me worried was being alone. Out of all those, that stressed me the most. I didn’t want to move very far from home, but I knew at that point I didn’t have much of a choice. Whatever job I was offered I pretty much needed to take.
“Stupid job market, stupid September 11th, stupid economy,” I vainly cursed.
I guess that’s what made me get drunk so quick. After a little while I tried to converse once again. I had better luck, thankfully, with much better reactions. I began to mingle with the crowd and a few times I put my foot in my mouth, but I just blamed it on the alcohol and moved on. Then I finally found my roommate.
“There’s this other place I like to go to,” he said, “it’s new but it’s a pretty cool place. You ready to go?”
“Well sure, uh . . . you ok to drive?”
“Oh yeah, I don’t drink a whole lot. Why, what did you have?”
“Uh, just a couple three beers.”
“Sheesh, let’s go.”
The next place wasn’t too far away, though for some reason I didn’t feel very comfortable. I guess it’s because I just get paranoid whenever I drink. It didn’t really matter, because pretty soon we were there.
This club was certainly new, and for some reason I could tell it would prosper, even if it was starting off small.
“Most of the people here are from the pub we were just at,” he told me.
As we walked in, I slowly recognized some of the people there from the place before that left earlier in the night. Some of the people there, however, I didn’t recognize. Most of these people were younger, and one of them was Chinese. He seemed to be arguing about something with a couple people, and it looked like it was only because of his language barrier. I decided it was just best to let them handle it.
Here I pretty much did the same thing I did before: order a drink, try in vain to blend in, and stay at the bar for a while. I got up and talked to some people and that’s when I noticed my roommate was missing again. I was a little annoyed, because I wouldn’t mind talking to him with other people. Then I wasn’t so sure if he felt the same way. After about forty five minutes I started to get worried. I went outside and saw that his car was gone. In a worried panic I called him up on his mobile phone.
“Mark! Where did you go?”
“Oh, I don’t really hang out there much anymore. I’ve just kind of moved on I guess.”
“Well, fine, I guess I’ll see you later or something.”
I thought it was weird that he would just leave like that, but for some reason I didn’t feel angry at him. I didn’t feel jilted, either, more like dropped off. I didn't worry about getting a ride. I was already home.