As I was driving home tonight it started raining. More than the light sprinkling that dusted the majority of the drive, but a substantial rainfall that forced me to kick my windshield wipers into high speed. Being the beginning of June in southern California, a rain was slightly unexpected, so it took me back to my time on the east coast where summer rains in Charleston and Virginia Beach were more common.
March 28, 2005 I I woke up for my last morning in Virginia before driving back to California. (Yes, I drove back to California, this would be the third time driving across the contiguous 48.) My final pitstop before heading to Richmond to pick up my travel buddy, Tammy, was my friend Steve’s house. After some last minute reminiscing and a good ol’ “take care, friend” I got in my silver Stratus and drove away from Virginia Beach, and it started to rain. I can’t remember if the rain actually painted the windshield, but my eyelids served as my windshield wipers for the torrential downpour. From October 2001 to March 2005 VB was my home: the Rickover (Hooyah!), Stooges, AJ Gators, Bar Rick, 264 to the water, and the most calming waterfront I’ve ever experienced were among the many loves I was leaving.
Fast forward to today.
A week and a half out from another major milestone in my life, and I’m driving home listening to Zac Brown Band. Quiet Your Mind and Colder Weather were the two songs I played on repeat on the way home, and like music often does, they got me thinking.
The day after graduation (the aforementioned “major milestone” if you hadn’t realized) my girlfriend and I accompanied my mother and sister to a relative of a family friend’s ordination. Yup, he’s now a Catholic priest. When we had arrived, I had thought about how long it had been since I had set foot in a Catholic church (the most recent being my brother’s wedding last July), but in thinking of it tonight, I actually thought of the last time I didn’t set foot inside a Catholic church. In May of 2006 (I know, I’m a chronological basket case, but hey, Pulp Fiction was a really popular movie…) I was in New York with a lovely group of friends, and as we were strolling down 5th Ave we came up a monstrously ornate Catholic church. The girls wanted to go inside, but I opted out, saying I’d check my voicemail on the steps. The cryptically vague message led me to call my friend Katie back, and she had asked if I had heard the news about my first (and longest) best friend, Angelina, and if I was ok/upset/anything. My initial reaction was that she had gotten married and that I was completely unaware of this momentous occasion. Quite the opposite. On CA-12 from Antioch to Davis, where she went to school (set to graduate that semester), she never made it home.
And just like that, collapsing back from my seated position, on the stairs of a Catholic church in NYC, it rained—the most torrential downpour my tear ducts have ever produced, and closest family member was gone.
I realized tonight that this past Memorial Day shared the same day as the fifth anniversary of Angelina’s passing, but then I thought that this was the first year that I hadn’t been a reclusive little mess about it. Not to say that I’ve forgotten about her (obviously), it just didn’t sit as far forward in my crowded little mind as it always had been. But I’m okay with that. My most recent breakup was shrouded in the fact that I was still in love with Angelina, and that I couldn’t fully invest myself in a serious relationship if I wasn’t over her. Yes, she was my first love, and my first best friend, and when such a sudden passing like hers occurs there are thousands of questions that even more people ask and wonder about—myself included.
I can honestly say that I’ve moved on, and I will forever remember my dear friend Angelina. Having loosed myself from my own emotional chains, I can honestly say that I am tremendously happy in a mutually shared love with a new best friend—the amazing Sarah Emily Caparino. I have loved, and I have lost, and I have rejected love, but where I am now, I love to the same exponential degree that I am loved—an equivalence that I thought to be unattainable.
And so now, as a college graduate, and a man with a new outlook on future endeavors and old memories alike, I start a new chapter. Although new, some things carry over, one of them being, I love my best friend.
Thank you, Summer Rain, for washing me over to reveal this beneath the dirt. Thank you.