The story of Zombie Justin is, like any good story, not only about Justin. It's a story that may not really be worth telling. A story that only a handful of people from my past would ever care about. A story I am probably only writing down for my own selfish satisfaction. To get it out. To validate the sordid history and sacred memories that I share with only a few special, rare and beautiful people. A history of friendship and youthful angst. An entire life that was lived out in only a couple short years, and primarily existed in a tiny apartment in a bad neighborhood.
Sometimes I don't believe that it was real. It seems like a dream. Faded and pieced together like a quilt from 100 years ago. Until I take down that old shoe box, worn out and falling apart and look through all those old pictures, read those old letters for the 924858948th time. And then I know, that it all really happened. We all really were those people. We really lived that life, and did those things, and I didn't dream any of it, although I mislead myself well enough. I convinced myself of a future that would never come. Of a life with someone that would always resemble those days in that apartment, where we created our own Universe, and lived by our own rules. Time was inconsequential. 4 a.m. was no different than 12 in the afternoon as long as we said so. Days could pass and really only be hours if that's what we wanted. And I believed it would go on that way, forever.
It was a tiny one bedroom apartment in a complex full of immigrants and low income families, where we all found our first home together. My first place. I was the only one that technically lived there, but so many people had a key to my door, or an unspoken grant of 24-7 access, whether I was home or not. There was always someone there with me. First it was Shayne. My friend who loved me more than I could ever love him back. The person who suffered the wrath of my immaturity more than he deserved. He helped me move into that apartment, carrying my shoe boxes of pictures and journals and lugging my mattress up 3 flights of stairs with me. He spent the first night in my apartment on my couch so I wouldn't be alone. He bought me house warming gifts and made sure I had groceries.
Then it was Camdon. Still to this day one of my best friends. Someone who knew me more intimately than any lover could, even though we'd never actually been physically intimate at all. He kept me honest. He kept me sane. He drove me home when I was drunk, and came to Phoenix every weekend from Prescott to keep me company. He got me Jack in the Box at 2 in the morning, and loved me more than I really deserved. His Chevy S-10 pick up was a second home to me, after all the hours we had logged talking on his tailgate, or taking drives out to nowhere so we could talk late into the night. He occupied the left side of my bed on nights when I couldn't sleep alone, and he never violated the sacred trust I held for him at all times. He was my protector, and someone I can never repay for his devotion to our friendship.
Then Lucia. My partner in crime and my evil twin. Lucia was loud like me, cussed like me, drank and talked shit like me, smoked like me and fought like me. We were sisters. We were closer than close and couldn't go an entire day without talking, and rarely went that long without seeing each other. There was more than one morning when I came home from my boyfriend's house to find her sleeping in my bed, like it was her home too. And we would have breakfast and spend the entire day driving around, dancing in her truck to good music, and hitting up QT whenever we ran out of drinks or cigarettes. I loved her like a little sister, and will never stop missing the nights we spent talking until the sun came up.
And then Justin. Justin was my very first real love. He defined the word love for me, in so many ways. Justin was the first time that true love seemed possible. Like more than something you read about in books or cry over in movies. More than and idea or a fairytale. Something tangible, that you could see and touch and feel forever. Justin taught me what unconditional love really was. He taught me how to love a whole person. Not an idea, not an image, and not in spite of who someone was. How to love and be loyal to the very core of yourself, all the time. We fell into our love so easily. He came over one night, and just never really left. For two days we lost ourselves in this flurry of finding each other. We knew each other from the moment we met. I was drawn to him from the time I first heard his voice, and there are moments here and there, spread out over the fabric of my life, where I am certain I will never stop hearing that voice calling....The whisper of his memory and the indescribable gravitational pull that exists between us still catches me off guard in quiet moments, and late at night when I am alone in my car. Justin wasn't the beginning of that life I lived so many years ago, but he was the end. When what we had dissolved into a pile of t-shirts, pictures, empty cigarette boxes and a few letters post marked U.S. Army, everything else started changing too.
Sometimes I don't believe any of it was real. Sometimes it seems easier to call it all a dream and pretend it didn't happen. But sometimes it's too real to deny. And those old feelings for all those people and all those places and all those things we did together when we were all so young come rushing back, and I can still recall it all so vividly. I can smell the candles we used to burn, I can feel the sheets that were on my bed, I can see the faces of those people coming through my door, and hear their voices greeting me, as if I were watching it all on a movie screen behind my eyelids. Maybe if I write it down, maybe if I get it out, all these old ghosts can go to bed. And I can move out of that old apartment in my mind.
This is the story of all of us.