Time to Settle Accounts
November 6, 2011: Those the words.
It was just after 1 a.m., now my 30th birthday. We’d been celebrating at my apartment since 7:30, when Ric and Josh and a friend from my summer softball team arrived. Since then, the party had featured a merry-go-round of different friends from different groups all meeting anew, lifting a glass and enjoying their cake and dancing and talking and watching 90s Bulls broadcasts.
Rob’s friends Hugh and Marcelle were here. This was, in itself, the marking of a new era, Rob’s friends officially becoming my friends, here for my birthday while our link sat in California. Hugh was working the music, leading the dance floor and sing-a-longs as only Hugh can, and now the Whammy crew was here, Jason and Ashley and Ronnie Bass hanging with me near my desk. “Gimme that Whammy!” I shouted helplessly from the front of my apartment toward Hugh. I wandered his way to play the song.
“What is this?” Hugh asked when the bass line began. I pointed toward Jay, who immediately let out a “Yeaaaa!” upon hearing the song. Shouts out to Letter L/ this so official… Jay and I met in the middle of the apartment, spitting lines, me more than him, the two of us running through the lyrics, Jay stunned at my accuracy and enthusiasm, and he stopped rapping and just laughed, looking at me and listening to his friend rap his words. Fuck is going on here?/ All these rappers killers and drug dealers/ I don’t belong here…
“Yo!” he shouted excitedly to Ashley and Ronnie. “Jack doing the verse! Damn. He know all the words!”
“Love this song!” I said in a pause. “It’s a hit!”
An hour later the party was dissipating. Jay, Ash, Ronnie and myself were seated on my desk, the window behind us, looking into the conversation consuming the living room, New Jack talking to his friend Andrew along with Justin, Rota, Ric. I looked on, beaming. “Did you meet New Jack?” I asked Jason.
“Dude right there on the couch, talking to Justin and all them. He moved in for Rob.”
“He fucking rocks,” I said. “Very easy to hang with.” Jay nodded. “Look at him over there with those guys,” I said, “chilling with a new roommate and friends of friends, and everyone’s talking and comfortable.”
“That’s dudes, you know?” Jay said. “We don’t need much to be friends. Chicks, man – they got all that, uh – you know, all that, and uh – you know?” I nodded. “But dudes – we just chill.”
Hugh and Marcelle were long gone, so the iTunes were on shuffle now. The claps on Kanye’s “Power” rumbled between the walls. On the big screen, Michael and Scottie and Horace and Pax were staking their comeback in Game 6 of the ’93 Finals, young bodies running amok in Phoenix back when we were in 5th grade. “I wrote a column about that once,” I told Jay. “It was all about the, uh, you know? Sports, video games, weed, drinks, girls, music.”
“That’s it right there,” he said. He stood from the desk and stretched his neck, side to side, side to side, his cheeks against his hoodie, his hoodie against his vest. “I’d like to read that.”
“I’ll send it to you.”
“Always love reading your stuff man.” He sat back on the desk, stretching his legs against the couch in front of us, pushing the little couch a few inches as he locked his knees. “I like the way you write. I get it, you know? I get it. You can always say, uh, just how you make it like what actually happened, make it sound the way it uh, you know – ” He smiled. “I get it.”
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From February 8, 2006: Life’s great struggle.