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Twelve days ago, in a field of green surrounded by redwoods, it rained. It rained cold and hard, but it was refreshing.

I stood in the middle of the field; the drops fell on my face and hands. This is good, I thought. This is a chance for me to start up again where I left off. This is important.

My hair was dripping late-summer rain by the time I made it back to my bike. It was still there, right where I’d left it. I hopped up and rode my way up and down and up and down and back to my little home. Back to my music and movies and writing. But I left my burdens there in that field with the green grass.

And then I slept.

I haven't seen Anthony or Alicia since their wedding in the autumn of 2004.

See, during college, particularly during my junior year, I always had a group, a pack, a gang, a party. And sometimes you don't all get along, but hey! you're part of the gang, so it's okay. You work it out. You go back to your room and bitch to your roommate about it. You sit with the gang the next day, everything works out fine. Anthony, Alicia, Leo, Brad, Jared, Me.

To the best of my knowledge, Anthony never attended church during junior year, the only evidence I have of this are the hangover breakfasts we'd have at 1:45pm, 15 minutes before the end of "brunch" in the cafeteria downstairs. These breakfasts were a ritual, to follow our weekly marathon D&D sessions. When he and Alicia started dating, they had a typical dorky college student sex life, the details of which I prefer not to speculate, and at some point, they suddenly decided to stop having sex, and to return to the Christian Fundamental Faith in which they were both raised. Again, I prefer not to speculate, but the other guys in the pack liked to snicker under their breath.

To be blunt, he's an asshole, but sort of a charismatic asshole. When we were fighting about the game, or a sports team, or where we should go for dinner, it could be kinda fun. We had an understanding.

And Alicia is a great, intelligent woman. And yet, I once heard her lamenting that she might not be fulfilling her responsibility to Christ and her family, because she just gets so tired at night, it's difficult to get up early enough before work in the morning to prepare a proper breakfast for her (then unemployed) husband. That she has failed as a wife by asking her husband to make breakfast.

"Because I want to see you when I arrive in the kingdom of Heaven."

After they moved away, Anthony and I still chatted in text on occasion, but the conversations usually ended when he asked if I'd mind if he prayed for me. At first, I asked what the prayer was for, and he answered "For you to become Christian." I asked him please not to pray for that. His response indicated that he would be praying for me, with or without my consent. Now, I might not believe in God, but I sure as hell believe in the power of prayer, so this bothered me more than a little.

We usually got on this topic after he asked me what I believed in, and I joltingly tried to explain my exploits in neo-paganism, or a story I found interesting in some tome of mythology somewhere- and he would stop me, and explain that Jesus could replace my uncertainty with faith. We "agreed" on several occasions never to discuss religion again, due to the strength of his faith. He just could not ignore the fact of my residence in Satan's grasp and therefore hopelessly denial of entry into God's kingdom upon my death. Eventually we managed to stick to the "no God talk" policy. It marked the beginning of a long and as yet unbroken radio silence between us.

I'm writing this now as a reaction to a livejournal post of Alicia's, explaining why Christians were banning their children from reading the Harry Potter books. She mentioned that she didn't mind HP personally, because it was different enough from real life that she wasn't fooled into thinking it could be real. She went on to explain that fiction was acceptable, as long the experience of reading does not influence how you think, or how you view the world. The responses ranged from agreement, to vehemence that she wasn't harsher on J.K Rowling, for what she was doing to the children, to a question: does God only expect us to learn from "good" books?

But I can't say to her that the whole point of words into influence a thought, to spark new ideas, to inspire, to enhance understanding, to open the mind to an idea that was once overlooked, or buried in taboo. I have no ammunition for this discussion, because I don't know the bible. At the end of my comments, I usually have to question some statement that I found difficult. When I ask "Why?" I am answered, "Because it is written."

Maybe I am jealous of their surety.

So it should be easy just to forget them, accept that we are too different to have a meaningful friendship any longer. I suppose the only matter that is unresolved in this situation, is that I feel loss for being, effectively, excluded from any two-way conversation with this family, with whom I spent so many nights drunk and happy, killing orcs, performing arcane spells, commiserating about how hard college is, and just enjoying each others' company. I miss them.

Tomorrow is my 21st birthday. I'm not really looking forward to it. People I really don't like are telling me that "it's about time" this happened, so that we can all go out and get really really drunk together. Oh joy.

I can't imagine what tomorrow will be like. A dinner with my family that will include talks about how I'm now a "grown up", then a pub crawl that will prove just how much of a grown up I am not. There will be drinking until I'm almost CERTAIN that that small tree over there is in fact a cop and we all need to "chill the fuck out." There will be possible puke-age. I'm sure the morning after I will wake up and wonder how I got home, and then decide it really doesn't matter, considering I'll probably have a hangover from hell.

Fun aplenty, I am sure.

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