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  • jolwajda


I'm not sure if he was my first kiss, but he was most definitely my first crush. We grew up in the same neighbourhood in the not-so-fancy part of town. Brick two-story townhouses with seven or eight connected together. There were dozens of them, and they all looked exactly the same. I remember having to count 1, 2, 3, 4, or whatever number of townhouse down the row my friends lived to make sure that I was in fact showing up at the right location. Once, when I was very young, my mom brought me trick-or-treating around the area and we unknowingly ended up where Matthew lived. His mom had dressed him up as a turtle. Even in kindergarten he seemed so cool to me, so seeing him dressed head to toe in all green made me feel like I had the upper hand. I can't recall who moved first. I think it was him. All I knew was that my crush was gone forever. Then my parents bought their first house, right down the street from his new home! I couldn't believe my luck. This sealed the deal. We were definitely getting married. New Kids on the Block would play at our wedding. Everything was falling into place. Where we relocated was a considerably better neighbourhood than the one we had been in before. We were both moving on up in the world. We shared the same classroom from Grade One right through to Grade Eight. He was a firecracker. Fighting with the teachers, always telling jokes, distracting the class with his impressions. I remember in Grade Five, him throwing everything off his desk, screaming at Ms. McDonald and slamming the door so hard I thought the wired glass would break. He had that I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude, which made me nervous, but also intrigued me a little bit. Everyone likes a rebel, right? When we were in the last year of elementary, right before high school, he talked about putting acid in our teacher's coffee, wanting to watch her trip out. As much as we all thought he was bluffing, in my head I thought, fuckkkk, I don't know… he might actually do it. Turns out it was a bluff. Or Mrs. Little could handle her drugs like a boss. One of the two. When high school hit, we drifted apart. So many other friends to hang out with. We weren't confined to the same twenty-odd people day in and day out. But we still ran in some of the same crowds. He was around the first few times I smoked pot. No papers? No problem. We would crush a pop can in the middle, make a hole on the side, stab the top with a safety pin, and smoke out of our own little homemade pipe. He was always making everyone crack up. By the time I was seventeen or so, we hardly saw each other. Late one night at the 24-hour pizza place in town, he was there with a group of guys, and I with a separate group of people. We were all drinking so everything was that much funnier. He was ragging on someone and was talking to me at the same time. The guy was trying to go head-to-head with him. I remember thinking, “…don't fucking do it man.” Trying to win an argument with Matthew was comparable to, say, getting front row tickets to a comedy show. It’s cringe worthy to watch. STOP. Why are you trying to be a hero? Do you like being publicly shamed? He was too quick, too witty.

By the time I left when I was nineteen, we didn't see each other anymore. I don't think he was a person I even thought about saying goodbye to. Our lives were different. People grow up. Take different paths. We would still comment on social media once in a while, but that was about it. He got shot last year, let's say over some beef, in broad daylight in his parents' driveway. Huh. I guess moving to a better neighbourhood didn't make much of a difference afterall. After I read about it from mutual people on Facebook, and knew that he was alive and okay, I messaged him. Not, “I'm so sorry to hear!” Or, “How ya doing?” No. My opening line was “Jesus Christ, did you get shot?” He wrote back, “I did indeed.” He told me the story. How he got called out to a car in his driveway. Started walking over, saw the rifle, started to run, and got a bullet right in the hip and clean out the other side. He was lucky it didn't hit anything major. At the end of the conversation, he thanked me for reaching out to him. I've known the guy for thirty years. I would have been incredibly sad if that scenario went the other way. He said he was moving to B.C. He did, but last I heard, he made his way back to Thompson. I selfishly hope he has, just so I'll be able to see him when I'm there for a short visit. To sit down with him after nearly twenty years, talk about how crazy life is, and reminisce about the past. Matthew, thank you for all of the memories. I hope it works out in our favour and I do get to see you. So you can make me laugh. You always were so good at it.


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