My friend Cameron was the funniest mother fucker around in grade school. He always had that perfect delivery, that perfect sense of how to tell a joke. I loved that kid, and I miss him.
He was on medication for ADD at the time. He always appeared to be incredibly hyper, which doesn’t seem like what was supposed to happen. Either way, it did. He was always such a joy to be around.
We would ironically play those pretend games that kids play where it’s basically an improv exercise. It usually took place in the mornings, on the sunlit bus ride to school. They say they shot you, you say “but pretend I’m okay because of forcefield,” they respond with, “but pretend you weren’t because I had forcefield bullets,” and so on. It was an amazing way to start a sleepy, school-ridden day.
I could never beat him. He was so fast, so quick with his comebacks. Just a barrage of, “but pretend you weren’t,” “but pretend you weren’t,””but pretend you weren’t,”…on and on, he had a defense for anything I could possibly say.
I talked to him after high school, reminiscing about those moments. “Man, remember how funny it was when we…” you know the drill.
I thought he would laugh and respond in kind. Instead, his voice took on a sad tone, hidden beneath a half smile.
“Yeah, I was on a lot of meds back then…”
Followed by an awkward silence.
In that moment, I realized I wasn’t talking to my friend. I was talking to a different version of him, but one that I didn’t recognize. A version that felt like, who he was at the time…wasn’t really him.
It feels like I was friends with a ghost, y’know? I feel bad for taking joy in thinking back to those times, because for Cameron, those moments didn’t involve him. They didn’t exist in his memory like they did in mine.
I think…I think things like this are what scare me away from getting psychiatric help.