TIME Magazine had a great line in their end of year write-up about 2002 that referred to it as an extremely uneventful year in terms of international news, and that sentiment applies to my life too. While there were some major changes in my life, the whole year can be whittled down to a few paragraphs:
As I continued to learn about and accumulate modern music, I pored over year-end countdowns and started to make weekly lists of The Edge’s 30 best songs. The internet helped me find dozens of songs that I remembered from my youth; I spent more and more time online. This led me to downloading MSN Messenger and randomly adding about a hundred random fellow classmates who I’d found in a chain email warning me that some screaming blood covered ghost would kill me in my sleep if I didn’t forward it. These classmates were from all over the clique spectrum of the school. A few jocks, a few car bros, a few stoners, a few punks, a few preppies, a few nerds- a real potpourri of crews. Some of these people I’d barely talk to. Others would end up being some of the most influential and long-lasting friendships of my life.
One of them happened to be Rose, the smart girl from my computers class. As I chatted with her online I started to develop feelings for her, something which her friends picked up on. One night around Easter time she seemed to be flirting with me and as my heart raced I decided to take a break and go for a long walk to think.
Yes this is indeed the much-hyped Origin Story of my long existential thinking walks. I went to the forest near my house and in the golden glow of the sun I wondered if this was real and about the nature of attraction. I couldn’t comprehend that someone could possibly have feelings for me; the very notion of a girl having a positive reaction to the thought of me seemed impossible. This couldn’t be real.
It wasn’t. It was her friends taking over her account and having some high school shenanigan type fun pretending to be her. I was disappointed, but ultimately knew that it had been too good to be true. I still had some residual feelings for her though, and a few months later after seeing the first Spiderman movie in theatres I realized I wanted to be the Peter Parker to her Mary Jane. So I bought her a small Harry Potter themed jewelry box for her birthday- only to find out later that day that she’d thrown it in the trash.
Moping in my room that late June evening, I tried to get my mind off Rose by listening to some new music. In between angsty songs I heard a scratch at my door, and opening it I found the most beautiful little Jack Russell Terrier puppy. My parents had got her as a school year-end gift, and she quickly became my companion during my newfound hobby of walking around and thinking about life.
Those walks would soon be relocated as my family moved to a new house later that summer. My sisters were now getting older and needed their own rooms. Also we lived near a sketchy neighbourhood with a few too many cop cars visiting on a weekly basis. So we settled down a few blocks away on a nice street that just happened to be the same one that had been my paper route the year before. The forest I’d grown up with was still within walking distance, but there was a new, different forest closer by that would end up becoming my new turf. It was darker, more gnarled, more coniferous, and far less travelled than the previous one- perfect trails for a young adolescent craving privacy.
Privacy which I got as the family settled into the new home and the basement remained in disarray for weeks. I spent many nights sneaking down to the “not-yet-set-up” computer and setting it up for my own use- talking to my friends online. It was in these weeks that I developed stronger bonds with people like Raj, the Irish Twins, and Aimee.
Then school started back up and nothing really much happened for the rest of the year, except when the Norwalk virus went around and I got so sick that I fainted at the top of the stairs and woke up at the bottom of them.