July 20th 2006
While Julie was in town, we rarely stayed in the house.
Julie and I were out all day it seemed like.
I showed her my school, where I worked, some of the local dive places, but they were still places to show her nonetheless.
Of course she met my friends and we all had a blast.
In fact, most days we went to Jet's house to swim or just hang out. It was always a good time with them.
Today, though, I was particularly sad. It was Julie's last day. The week had flown by way too quickly in my opinion.
So as usual, we were at Jet's house, chilling outside while we ate an early dinner.
Julie's flight was in the evening, so after eating, we would have to say our goodbyes, get her luggage and get a ride to the airport from David.
I wasn't ready to say goodbye so soon, because it was going to be a long while before I could go back home.
But I forced myself to not think those thoughts and instead just focus on my friends and our current playful banter.
"I like his hair this way!" Jet squealed as she played with Lawrence's hair in her fingers.
Over the weeks, Lawrence's hair had grown out. Not too long, but considerably. I thought he looked better with his normal close cropped hair.
"I know, I really need to get it cut soon," Lawrence said.
"No, don't!" Jet whined.
I smirked, "Lawrence, man, why are you so whipped?" I asked.
Lawrence shot me a look, "I am not whipped. I just wanted to try a different look."
"You look like a woman," I joked.
"He does not!" Jet defended, "You look great, baby," she said to him.
"So when are you gonna get it cut?" Julie broke in.
"Next week," Lawrence said.
"Why not sooner?" I asked.
Lawrence looked down at his plate, "Because Jet's going to visit her grandparents that weekend."
I snickered, "So you're waiting until she's out of town before you get your haircut. Shit!"
"Damn Larry, strap on a pair, will you?" Julie teased and then she held up her hand, "Give me some!"
I slapped her hand and we both shared a grin.
"Lawrence, do you need some aloe, because you just got burned!" I crowed as Julie giggled next to me.
Even Lawrence, Jet, and Parker were laughing. They were used to our antics by now.
Jet had even commented on how Julie and I were like some kind of tag team. And I had to agree with her on that.
"I'm gonna miss you Julie," I said once we all quieted down.
Julie looked at me and smiled, "I know Petey."
"It was really nice meeting you," Jet added, "You have to come visit again."
Julie grinned, "As fun as you all are, I'm not sure if Texas is really my kind of place. How about if all of you come visit us in New York over the summer when Pete moves back?"
Jet thought about it and nodded, smiling enthusiastically, "Actually, that does sound much better. I love New York."
"Then it's settled," Julie said and I had a feeling Julie would be making future plans with Jet over the phone or via email. Julie was such a planner.
"Alright, then I guess we'll get going. We need to get to the airport and stuff," I said standing up, with Julie following suit.
Jet stood up and hugged Julie. Then Julie walked over to Lawrence and hugged him briefly then to Parker, who blushed.
I shook my head. Parker was always so shy around girls.
"Keep in touch peeps!" Julie said as she headed towards the door.
"We will," Jet said.
I waved one last time and we walked the short distance to my house.
"Thanks for coming to see me," I said as we walked slowly.
"No problem. I had a good time. It was nice to see your new world," she said.
"Are you excited to head home?"
I laughed, "Yeah, you lucky bitch," and then ducked away when she slapped me.
"So, once we walk into the house," Julie said as we both paused outside the front door of my house, "It means goodbye."
"Stop being so dramatic," I teased.
Julie shrugged, "Can't help it. I'm prepping for UCLA."
I walked inside the house and saw David in the kitchen.
"Hey kids," he greeted and stood up, "Want to head to the airport soon? It's always good to get there a little early."
I nodded, "Yeah, let me just get the luggage."
Julie and I both walked up the stairs, bumping into Blair and Grant on the way.
I shot Blair a dirty look, which he returned immediately.
"Heading home?" Grant asked Julie.
"It was nice meeting you," Grant said holding out his hand politely.
Julie shook his hand and smiled, "Thanks, same to you."
"Have a safe flight," Grant added as he followed Blair down the stairs before shooting me a small smile.
It was a quiet time as we loaded her luggage in David's pickup and we were oddly silent on the drive to the airport.
Neither of us said a word. We just stared ahead of us as David drove, our arms looped into one another.
At the drop off area I got out and helped her get a handle on her bags and then we just stood there facing each other.
Julie smiled, "Don't look so sad mutt. It's not like you'll never see me ever again," she said in an attempt to lighten the mood.
"I know, but still," I whined, slouching in a childish manner. Julie chuckled.
She leaned over and hugged me tightly.
"You'll make it Pete. You're the strongest person I know. And until you come home, we'll have to make do with our snazzy electronics, ok?"
I nodded and kissed her cheek.
I watched as she disappeared through the sliding doors and then stood there a few minutes, frozen to the spot.
"Ready Pete?" David asked timidly, breaking me out of my trance.
I shook my head, "Yeah," and then I got into the passenger seat beside him.
Oh man, was it graduation day yet?
I fiddled with my straw wrapper, a smile playing over my lips as I looked at David with amusement.
We were sitting in a booth, waiting for our food, and David looked really nervous and uncomfortable.
This was our first one on one lunch together and although I felt fine, David didn't seem the same way.
"You ok David?" I asked sipping my sprite.
"Yeah," he stammered licking his lips.
I smirked. He always seemed so unsure of himself around me.
"You sure?" I teased, unable to resist. David was just too easy bait.
David sensed my tone and laughed. "That obvious huh?"
"A little," I replied.
David sighed but was still smiling, "Well, this is all new to me too," he admitted.
"But you sort of have a son already. Blair," I reminded him.
He nodded, "But that's different. Blair was young when I married his Mom. You're older and have your opinions, well, already formed."
"True, although I still think you would have been better off with me at a young age than older and stuck with Blair," I scoffed.
David smiled briefly before his expression became uneasy again.
"Listen, Pete, we really need to talk," he began.
"We are talking," I pointed out.
David sighed, "I know, we are, but I want to explain some things."
I narrowed my eyes, "I don't need an explanation."
David frowned, "How could you not? I know you have to be curious, or wondering, or angry."
I nodded, "Sure, I'm always wondering, but I'm older now and made my peace with everything. I can't change the past; neither can you. And my life has been good, well except for recently, so there's no point in feeling sorry for myself. It won't change anything."
"Well you have a good outlook Pete, but I still want to explain stuff."
"Fine," I said clasping my hands together on the table, "How come you didn't stay with my Mom when she told you she was pregnant?" I shot out.
David took a deep breath and looked at me searchingly, "I know it seemed like the coward thing to do, run off like that, and maybe it was. But I was young and just finished school. I wasn't ready to get married or have a kid."
"You're right. It was the coward thing to do," I said, not feeling sympathetic whatsoever.
"Ok," I said leaning forward again, "Well since you knew about me from the beginning, how come you didn't contact me or Mom when you got older or felt ready for a kid. I mean, you were only like 30 or so when you met Blair or what not?"
David looked slightly uncomfortable and I smirked. I don't think this was how he planned for things to go.
He got a little time to think, however, as our waiter brought out our food.
"I guess I don't have an answer for that Pete. I'm just a coward. I knew you existed, but I didn't want to face my mistakes. I was ashamed, and I was just starting a new family and didn't see the point of going into the past. I just don't know. I'm sorry," he said.
"So if my Mom hadn't died, you probably never would have met me, right?" I asked pointedly.
David blushed and looked away.
"It's ok David. I'm not mad at you specifically, I'm just stunned in general, how a biological father could never want to meet their own blood, but that's just me," I said.
He opened his mouth to say something but I shook my head.
"David, I'm serious. I don't have any hateful feelings towards you. I don't want to waste my energy being mad. It's not like I was poor or an orphan. Things worked out ok for me. And the truth is, if Mom hadn't passed, I wouldn't have tried to contact you either. Our lives weren't meant to cross one another. I think we both accepted the existence of the other, but we didn't have the desire to look for each other. I'm only here for my mother and out of respect for her. I'm glad I did get to meet you, but after this, well, who knows? We can go back to being strangers and I'm sure we would both live on," I said and then dug into my sandwich.
David studied me, "I know I made a mistake and you probably don't want to see me after you go back home. And I guess you're right. I wasn't really planning on contacting you until, well you know. But now that you're here, right in front of me, I just. I, well, it might not be as easy for me as it is for you, just to say goodbye and forget all about you."
I glanced at him, "I can't promise anything David. Let's just get through this time and see where everything goes? I'm not real good at planning or looking too far into the future."
He nodded, "Ok."
And we sat in a comfortable silence, eating our lunch.
"Come on, catch it!" Stacey squealed as she tossed a marshmallow at me and I attempted to catch it in my mouth.
For a boss, Stacey was kind of immature. Every morning she was in the office, pretending to be studious, but later in the day, she got bored and would hang out with me and Parker or some of the other tutors.
Parker was tutoring someone but he could hear what was going on and knew what we were doing.
I was in Stacey's office and was just chilling.
"So how was the rest of your vacation?" Stacey asked once we both calmed down.
Break was over and I was back into the swing of things and doing monotonous crap, like homework. BOO!
"It was ok. I got some cool gifts from my friends back home. Time went by fast, but I'm not complaining. The sooner time flies by, the sooner I can get back."
"Nothing around here has sparked your interest?" Stacey asked.
"Well if you found something you really liked around here, maybe you wouldn't be missing home so much," she suggested.
I shook my head, "It isn't like that," I insisted, "I made friends here, I got a cool job, with a great boss," she grinned at me, "but as ok as I'm doing here, I'm always missing home in the back of my mind."
"Makes sense," she nodded, "Well, when do you turn 18?"
"April 23rd. Why?"
"Well, we have to celebrate," she said.
I chuckled, "Oh yeah, how?"
"Doesn't matter. Just celebrate. So you won't feel so down all the time."
I leaned back in my chair, "Ah, I don't know about that. Without my family or friends, I don't feel like celebrating."
"Oh come on," Stacey whined, "Everyone wants to celebrate their birthday! Especially their 18th!"
"We'll see," I said, in a way to shut her up.
"If you don't want to go out like a normal person," she exaggerated, rolling her eyes, "You can always come over to my house and we can get food and make our own drinks. Create our own party."
"I don't know," I stalled.
Stacey sighed, "Pete I know you have a few friends. What about Parker?" she gestured before continuing, "And you can meet my friends, and maybe my younger brother. He usually visits on weekends and stuff. He's in college."
"I'll think about it. But I'm not promising anything, ok?"
"Fine, but this isn't over," she said before letting the matter drop.
"Pete!" Parker called out.
Stacey nodded for me to leave and I stood up and entered the main room.
I noticed Grant sitting at a table with his books.
I smiled at him.
"Hey man," I greeted, "Ready to get back into the swing of things?"
"I have to," Grant said and opened his calc book, "Got an exam coming up and I need to ace it."
I nodded, "Alright, then let's get started."
We spent about an hour working on some problems and Grant had some trouble, but was eventually getting the hang of it.
Grant sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"Hey, you're doing better," I encouraged, "Just keep working on it."
"I suck at math," he groaned.
"Most people do," I said.
"You're ok with it," he said.
"Well, that's me," I said with a cheeky grin, "I'm great at every subject."
"What? That's why I'm a tutor," I said and he just smiled.
Grant doodled a bit on his notebook, "So, how's Julie doing?"
I looked at him with surprise then smiled, "She's doing ok. She went back to school right after she got home. She skipped two days of school so she could stay with me longer."
Grant nodded and then paused, "She's your girlfriend?"
I laughed and shook my head, "Everyone thought so, but no, she's not my girlfriend. Think neighbor and best friends, since forever. Usually when I'm home, it's not just me and her anyways. We hang out with our other best friend Danny, but he couldn't make it," I replied, "And besides, she's not really my type."
Grant smiled faintly, "What is your type?"
I looked at him and smirked, "Hey, I like anything, as long as they look good," I replied laughing, "No uglies for me, thanks."
Grant burst out laughing, "So it's all about the looks for you?"
I nodded, flipping through a notebook nonchalantly, "Yeah, pretty much. I guess I really am that shallow."
Grant nodded and he looked visibly more cheerful than he had been over winter break.
"So what colleges have you applied to?" I asked, keeping the conversation going.
Grant shrugged, "A few places around here."
"Nowhere out of state?" I asked raising my eyebrows.
He shook his head, "Nope," he answered quietly.
"Wow, don't you want to see any other places?" I wondered.
"I don't know. I've been here all my life, so it's hard to leave."
"I guess I understand that. I'm not any better really, rushing to head home and then go to college there," I replied, "I was born and raised in NY and I'm continuing my education there. So I guess I'm not one to judge."
"I guess it would be cool to go somewhere new and everything. Experience something different and all that. But I'm too scared," Grant explained.
"What do you mean?" I asked narrowing my eyes.
He shifted to face me, "Well, I'm not close to my Dad at all and I don't have any brothers or sisters. My other relatives aren't anywhere close. But I've been here forever. Even if it's not the best, it's still home. It's familiar, it's safe. I'm comfortable with my life here, with David, Kelly, and Blair," he shook his head, "To go somewhere else and be thrown into something new. I just, I don't know, I don't think I can do it."
I smiled, "Hey, you don't have to explain it to me. I know what you mean. How do you think I feel? Now you know why I'm so bitter about being here and so eager to go back."
Grant tilted his head, making some of his blond curls drape over his forehead that had me distracted enough to miss his next question.
"I said I understand," Grant repeated, "I don't know how you do it, man. After, you know, losing your Mom, and finding out about your Dad, you came all the way to Texas and left behind all your friends, who obviously care a lot about you, yet you still make it work. Like, I mean, you seem so strong still. You're ok in a new school and you handle Blair real well. I never seen someone get him so pissed off before," Grant said laughing, "And you made friends here as well. I wish I had the guts you had. Maybe I could get away from here as well," he finished a little wistfully.
I leaned closer to him, "Grant, listen," I said and waited until I had his attention before going on, "I put on a brave face, but I'm really a big baby also. I'll admit it, I was a freaking Momma's boy. I had everything taken care of by my Mom and I really loved her. Love her," I corrected, "But you have to adapt and keep moving forward. So if you were uprooted to a new environment, and college is a common one at that, I think you can make it. I think you're stronger than you think."
Grant smiled at me.
"Hell, you have to be to tolerate that shit head best friend of yours," I added casually and Grant laughed.
"So hypothetically, if you wanted to go anywhere else in the country for school, where would you go?" I asked.
Grant shrugged, "I have no idea. I never really traveled anywhere before. I guess the big places would be good to start at. Like California or New York."
I smiled, "Nice. New York I love. I like LA enough, but I think the traffic is worse over there than it is in New York. I'm so biased, I just love the East Coast. So Boston is cool, Jersey is good, cheap shopping, uh, what else, Delaware is lame, but Connecticut isn't bad, and neither is Chicago, but just Chicago, not Illinois itself."
Grant laughed at my entire spiel.
"You ramble a lot," he commented.
I nodded in agreement, "I totally do. I get lost on one train of thought and then I can't seem to stop myself. Ah well," I said sighing, "Bottom line is, you shouldn't sell yourself short, Grant. If you want to go somewhere else or try something different, I say go for it. And if you don't have the money, you could get plenty of scholarships. You're definitely not dumb," I said pointing at his textbooks, "Your grades are good and you have athletics to add to the whole package. You're good."
He nodded while looking down at the table.
I shook my head, not knowing how we exactly got onto this topic, "Anyway, let's get back to this," I said glancing at my phone, "It's getting late and as annoying as dinner is at my place, I still gotta eat."
So we got back to our work.
"Are you working this weekend?" Jet asked as she plopped next to me in our first period class.
"I work just about everyday for a few hours. It's great, on most days, I just chill with Stacey."
Jet was running her fingers through her hair, "I think we should have another gathering," she announced.
I chuckled, "Jet, we have gatherings at your house every week. It's like, a definite weekly thing at this point."
Jet smiled, "You're right, but it's still fun to plan things once in awhile."
I nodded, "I guess you're right."
"I guess I just get bored of the same routine. I want to do something different," Jet said.
"What did you have in mind?"
"I have no idea," she answered simply and I smirked.
She shook her head, her blond hair flying around a bit, "Fine, we'll just stick to the usual. Everyone comes over and we eat."
I laughed, "Sounds good to me."
"So how come you're always in school so early?" she asked randomly, but I was used to her randomness by this point in our friendship.
"I'm usually not back home, but over here, I go to bed super early, so I naturally just wake up earlier."
"Lame," she teased.
"I know," I agreed and she giggled.
"You're not supposed to agree with me," she joked.
"I know, but I'm man enough to admit the truth," I said shrugging.
She looked at me with an amused smile, "You're something else Pete."
"Thanks," I said curtly and she just shook her head.
"I'll definitely miss you when you go back to New York. You're different than most people. And it's weird how you meet people, but then you'll never see them again," she went on.
I looked at her with shock, "We'll see each other again. You Mom lives in Connecticut, that's pretty close to New York. And you, Lawrence, and Parker always have a place to stay with me. And hell, I'll visit you in Florida State when you get in."
She smiled, "Cool. So you'll miss me too?"
I snorted, "As odd as you are and all your talking aside, sure, I'll miss you," I said and she pinched my arm.
I turned serious, "I really will miss you. I didn't think I would make any friends out here, but you, Parker, and Lawrence are great. You make it easier to live here. And I don't have to starve," I added causing her to grin at me.
"Ah, so sweet," she drawled out, pinching my cheek.
At that moment Grant walked in the door, looking a little flushed.
He started to head towards the back where he sat with his friends, but when he spotted me he paused briefly.
Our eyes met and Jet and I stopped talking. I could tell Jet was watching us from the corner of my eye.
"Hey," he said quietly, smiling slightly, before dropping his eyes.
I found his shy manner amusing.
"Hi," I answered smiling, nodding my head a little.
Grant greeted Jet also as he passed her and then he settled in his own seat.
Jet leaned in close and whispered in my ear, "I think someone has a crush."
"I do not," I said almost defensively.
Jet curled her lip at me, "I was talking about Grant liking you, but judging by your reaction, I'll have to reevaluate the situation and say you might have a thing for him as well," she said in a low voice to not attract any attention.
I folded my arms, "I don't like him," I mumbled.
"You're cute when you're in denial," she said.
I glared at her.
"Oh come on," she said, "Did you see that? How your eyes met and how shy he was? Grant is pretty popular Pete, and I've never seen him act so shy before, especially around a guy, a guy his best friend hates no less," she pressed.
I pondered her words. Could Grant really like me? That would mean he would have to be gay.
I shook my head. I knew gay people existed in Texas, but the possibility of Grant being gay just didn't seem to get through to me.
"You're wrong," I said firmly.
"What, about you liking him or him liking you?" she asked innocently.
I shot her a look and she just smiled and turned to the front of the room as the teacher walked in.
I slowly craned my neck to the back of the room and saw Grant's blue eyes trained on me in that thoughtful intense manner he seemed to do a lot around me.
Once again our eyes met and Grant blinked and looked away.
I shook my head, no way.
And then I turned my attention back to the front of the room.
Things progressed pretty quickly. Things always did when you got into a routine.
I got into a routine.
I went to school, I worked, I ate dinner, did my homework, worked out a little, and then went to bed.
On weekends I spent my time working and chilling at Jet's place.
I still ate lunch everyday with my new friends.
I was beginning to settle in and began feeling more comfortable in general.
David and I continued our one on one outings to talk more, and even though terrible circumstances had forced us to meet, I found out he was an overall good guy and rather interesting. I couldn't call him Dad, and I may never be able to, but he was a good guy.
I still tutored Grant at least three times a week. Sometimes we talked, and other times we just focused on our tasks at hand.
I ignored Jet whenever she teased me about Grant. It just couldn't happen, I kept telling myself.
Blair and I still fought regularly and I quite enjoyed our encounters. It was fun to get him mad. He was too easy of a target. It was definitely entertaining and it helped pass the time.
Yeah, I know, I'm an asshole. I love my assholic ways.
Nothing spectacular happened.
This was high school, there wasn't that much drama, and if there were any, I didn't really pay any attention to it.
I was technically an outsider and I kind of liked it that way.
And before I knew it, it was the middle of March.
Time was flying, and boy was I grateful.
Even better news, Danny and I both got into NYU. We had sent back our replies.
Julie got into UCLA and we had talked through Webcam about everything. She was really excited and I was so happy things were working out for her.
Life was insane. Gotta love it.
I finished my class and headed to the cafeteria for lunch.
As soon as I walked in, I sensed something was off and as I headed further in, I heard a commotion.
I kind of pushed my way through the crowd and I heard a loud, "FUCK YOU!" that sounded a lot like Parker and I fought even harder to get inside the inner circle that had developed.
Once I broke through, I saw Blair and Parker, squaring off. It was quite a sight, with Blair looming over Parker. He was much bigger than Parker, but Parker wasn't backing down. His face was flushed red and he looked pissed.
"Why don't you just leave me alone, huh? I never did anything to you!" Parker shouted.
Blair sneered, "I just don't like seeing your faggot face around here!"
I felt my face heat up with anger as well and I was wondering if my face was as red as Parker's was.
I shoved my way in front of Blair and got in his face.
"What's your fucking problem, meathead?" I asked heatedly.
Blair smirked and looked me in the eye, easily, since we were about the same height.
"Come to defend your boyfriend?" he sniggered and I saw in the background some of his football buddies were laughing, "I knew you were a fag right from the start," he said sounding smug and crossing his arms.
"Yeah, it takes a fag to spot one," I shot back and his expression became one of anger.
"Are you calling me fucking queer?" Blair seethed stepping closer to me as if to intimidate me, but I stayed rooted.
I was calm.
"You know what Blair? I'm getting pretty fucking tired of your fag bullshit. It's getting old. Why do you hate gay people so much?" I demanded pushing my chest forward, "And the funny thing is, no one here is even gay, you fucking idiot! You can at least get your facts straight, you dumb shit. All those steroids must be frying what little brain you have in that brick head of yours!" I practically screamed.
Blair even seemed a little shocked at my outburst and actually took a step backwards.
I looked behind Blair at his equally dumb friends.
"And what the fuck are you laughing about?" I yelled, "Do you just go along with everything he does and says? What's with you people?" I asked looking around, "Doesn't anyone here think for themselves? Grow a fucking brain!"
I don't know where all this was spewing from, but it was coming out full force.
I felt someone touch my arm and saw Jet and Lawrence standing beside me.
"What's going on?" she asked, with concern in her face.
I was breathing hard.
I glared at Blair, "Bitch boy over here got in Parker's face."
Blair eyes narrowed and he puffed his body forward again, regaining his composure.
Blair pushed me and I stumbled backwards, "You're the bitch. You think you're so much better than everyone here, don't you? Just because you're from New York. New York is full of gay people. You have to be one of them."
I rolled my eyes, "Someone has been doing their gay research Blair. Any reason why?" I provoked with a smirk.
He looked enraged and I laughed.
He stepped forward again, but Jet pushed him away.
"Just stop," she said calmly, "the teachers are coming and you don't want to jeopardize this week's game, do you?"
That got Blair's attention. Football was his life. Go figure.
He shot one last nasty look at me and retreated to his table.
I turned around, but couldn't find Parker anywhere.
"Where did he go?" I asked Lawrence.
Lawrence shrugged, "When we got here, he was gone."
I scanned the cafeteria for Parker, but didn't see any sign of him.
"I hate this place," I muttered before spinning on my heel and stalking out of the cafeteria.
I bumped into Grant as I shoved open the door leading to the hallway.
"Hey," he said but his smile faded when he saw my angry expression.
"What's wrong?" he asked with concern grabbing my arm.
I wrenched my arm free, "Nothing. Get out of my way," I hissed and I brushed past him.
I really hated the people here. No joke.
I found Parker in the bathroom, splashing water on his face.
I didn't even say anything, I just watched him fuming in front of the mirror.
"I hate Blair Ryerson," he said to his reflection.
"You and me both," I agreed.
"I just want to kick the shit out of him."
I smiled, "I'm sure Jet can do that for you."
"I should get her to teach me some stuff."
"Nah," I said, "Imagine how humiliating it will be if his ass is handed to him by a girl. A small girl at that."
A smile formed on his lips and he grinned at me from the mirror.
"You didn't have to step in like that."
"I know," I began, "But I couldn't help it. My hate for him got the best of me. You were doing a pretty good job on your own."
"I just wanna," he made a stabbing motion with his hands and I laughed.
"You know what I always wanted to try?" I asked, "Putting laxatives in someone's drink. Just for the fun of it."
Parker burst out laughing, "You're sick."
"Who, me?" I asked innocently, prompting more laughter.
"Come on!" I protested, "That's funny! Someone running to the bathroom? That's funny stuff!"
Parker bowled over hitting his leg, "New Yorkers. You're crazy!"
"Wait," I said seriously, "Does that mean you don't want to do it?"
Parker continued to laugh.
"So that's a no go then, right?" I asked smiling, glad that Parker was feeling better.