“It’s been three months. Am I cured Doc?”
“Remember what I told you at the very beginning Tommy, you were never broken to begin with. Sometimes people just don’t think rationally when they’re under a lot of stress, and in your case, needless to say, there was.”
I began seeing Dr. Cheryl Miller a few weeks after Derrick’s death. Mom and dad and my other doctors highly suggested it after my attempted suicide from overdosing on pain meds three moths ago. Dr. Miller wasn’t your typical psychiatrist, she was tall, thin, beautiful, and probably no more than thirty five, but you never ask a woman her age.
“To give you a clear answer though, we have made a lot of progress. I’m going to be honest; your case was pretty unique and new to me. But you have put forth tremendous effort and I think you are finally ready to move on with your life. Just remember not to let anyone pressure you into dating again, not until you are ready. It was a pleasure getting to know you Tommy, and I know you’re going to turn out just fine.”
“Thanks Dr. Miller. You helped me through some pretty tough times, and for that I can never thanks you enough.” We both stood up and she extended her hand for a handshake, but I stepped forward and gave her a big hug. This woman, with the support of my parents, completely turned my life around from where it had left off three months ago.
I turned around and left her office for what I hoped would be the last time.
I walked home under the bright and warm sun to find dad already in the van waiting for me. Today was not only my last session with Dr. Miller, but also moving day for me. Angie, Kallie, and I had kept true to our word and rented an apartment in Madison close to the campus I was attending it now as well. They had already left several days ago to start unpacking, but I had to stay behind to finish my sessions, since I would now be without a car in Madison (it’s useless since parking costs an arm and a leg, plus you get a little extra exercise). Dad and I had already packed up the van with my assorted books and clothes and whatnot.
I was hoping I could bypass mom by heading straight for the van out back, but as I entered the garage, there she was, waiting for me. Tears were already flowing down her cheeks as she tried mutter a few loving words through the sobs. I just hugged her and kissed her one last time and she continued to cry her heart out, despite the fact I was only going to be living forty minutes away. I wriggled my way out of her grip and made my way to the front passenger seat in the van. Dad was just waiting there with huge grin on his face and only jokingly said a few words before starting the van, “Women. I can see why you made that choice son.” The van started its journey to Madison and I started on the journey to the rest of my life.
“TOMMY!” Angie and Kallie screamed as they threw open the door to the apartment. They both rushed at me and hugged me until al the air was squeezed out of my lungs. I don’t blame them though, the last time they saw me was three months ago when I was in the hospital at Madison for a second time, that time by my own wrongdoings. We had all held through on our promise to room together in an apartment near the campus.
“You look great,” commented Kallie.
“I’m amazed myself considering all of the hospital food I’ve had over the past year.” I replied.
“Well,” interrupted dad, “I suppose this is my cue to head back home.” He set down to suitcases full of my clothes in the hallway. I gave him one last hug before he headed to the elevator. Our room was only on the third floor, but I had a lot of luggage crammed with clothes, books, toiletries, what-have-you.
“We’ll show you to your room,” Angie announced before she turned around and walked into the apartment.
“Would either of you girls mind giving me a hand with my stuff?”
“Stop being such a fruit and carry your own crap,” Kallie replied with a grin.
My room was only a bit smaller than my old one at home. Enough space for a bed, desk, and dresser, with a little extra pacing space. One bad habit I picked up from those long hospital stays with Derrick was pacing; I did it whenever I was thinking and it drove anyone else who was in the room crazy.
Being my lazy and procrastinating self, I tossed all of my luggage on the bed and headed out into the living room. The apartment began in an open living room with a small kitchen on one end and a hallway leading to the three bedrooms on the other. The living room had a sofa, a few chairs, and for what reason God only knows, a beanbag chair, all surrounding a “fabulous” thirty inch TV screen. It wasn’t a lot, but it was home. I sat in one of the chairs while Kallie and Angie were both sitting on the sofa, watching Oprah on TV.
I looked at them with a serious look and Kallie must have gotten the idea, since she immediately turned off the TV. “Girls, I just want to thank you for having me here, even after all the crazy shit that’s been happening. I was under a lot of stress once Derrick died and I wasn’t thinking rationally and made some bad decisions and…”
“Tommy, we understand. You don’t have to explain anything to us,” Kallie interjected.
“Yeah Tommy,” Angie said, “we’re your friends through thick and thin, good times and bad. Although to be honest, you seem to be attracting a lot more of the latter over the past year, so do you think maybe this year you could try to stay out of trouble?”
“I’ll do my best girls,” I said with a chuckle, “but no promises, okay.”
“You really loved him, Derrick, I mean, didn’t you?” Angie suddenly asked.
“I still do. I still do.”
We spent the next few hours sitting in front of the TV, channel surfing, never staying on one program longer than a few minutes. Finally Kallie stood up and said, “Enough of this, I’m hungry. Come on Tommy, we’ve got to show you the best food in town!”
We spent the next hour or so roaming up and down State Street, touring the various fast food places and restaurants. We decided to stop at a little bar and grill. We all sat down and soon a waitress came and took our orders, each of us having a cheeseburger, fries, and a drink.
“If you don’t mind my asking, how have you two been faring in the romance department?” I all but interrogated.
“Well…it’s kind of hard when you’ve got all these classes and between studying and…” Angie started rambling on.
“For the love of God! If I could have a boyfriend in my first year of college, than so could you! I was taking twenty one freaking credits my first semester! If I could find the time to even keep it secret for three months, you two should be able to at least get a date.”
“Maybe we’re just holding out for the right guys, okay? And what about you? Are we ever going to see you on the dating scene in the Mad City?” Angie struck right back.
“What I’ve had and been through is kind of hard to get over so quickly. I was lucky enough to find one true love in my life. What are the chances I’m going to find another?”
“Tommy,” Kallie began, “not to say Derrick wasn’t the one, but you found him in a town of ten thousand people. This is a town of more than two hundred thousand! You’re bound to at least find a good hottie. And if you’re interested, I might know a few guys.”
“Uh-uh, not in a million years will you be playing matchmaker for me…but just out of curiosity, how hot are we talking?”
“Cute in my book, but I don’t know what the scale is for gay guys, aren’t you guys usually a little more picky?”
“Well I like to think we don’t treat each other just as sex objects Kallie.”
“It’s all right. There’s a hell of a lot of misinformation out there about gay guys and how promiscuous we are, when really most of the time we’re just looking for love.”
“You are so sappy and soooooo gay!”
“Don’t listen to Kallie all the time Tommy. I know you’ll find someone else out there who can give you all the love you deserve.”
“Thank you Angie. And as for you Kallie, you could learn a thing or two about stereotyping.”
“Tommy, to be completely honest, you are one big gay walking stereotype. You know almost ever Broadway song ever written, you cross your legs when you sit, hell, I’m surprised you don’t talk with a lisp.”
“Kallie,” Angie interjected, “your being an asshole.”
“That’s all right Angie. Frankly I’m glad that you guys are so comfortable that we can talk openly and honestly, and even joke about me being gay. It’s pretty refreshing. And remember, we gay guys love assholes.”
Kallie started laughing hysterically and Angie and I soon joined her. We were getting a few strange looks from people at the bar, but I couldn’t care less. I hadn’t laughed this hard in a long time.
After we ate and split the bill, we headed back to the apartment. While Kallie and Angie plopped down on the sofa, I made my way to my room.
I closed to door behind me to get a little peace and quiet. I stared out the window of my room and saw the dome of the Capitol Building in the distance. I looked out at the new world and wondered what awaited me in the future. Would I…could I ever find someone whom I loved as much as Derrick. I would just have to put my faith in God on this one. Despite all the things that have happened to me over the past year, I still considered myself a lucky man for ever having known Derrick.
I decided to pass the time by getting to work on that luggage on my bed. I unpacked and put away all my clothes and stacked my various textbooks (I always keep my old ones for reference) on the desk. It was going to be my home for the next two years (until I finished my undergraduate degree)…or so I thought.