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04 October 2016 - 23:19

I had a conversation with Beto today that I'm not quite sure what to feel about. Or how. Beto is a relatively new buddy for me; well, I've known him for about four years now, but only in the past month or so has our relationship gone from casual greeting from a distance to actually hanging out. I mean, I wouldn't call him my best friend or anything (that's Nacho, durr), but it's actually been because of me hanging with both him and Juan that he and I began to talk more. With this new PTS account we're handling for a sister center, we're all putting in more hours, and most of the time, that means an hour break in between shifts for lunch (and so management doesn't have to pay us overtime, let's be real). Beto is among the younger members of the group that's brought in, so he didn't really have anyone to hang out with. Nacho is the ever-friendly extrovert, and invited Beto out to lunch with us on one occasion. He also invited Roberta, and she only agreed to go because I was going (she gets along with all of us, but feels less awkward around me for some reason). We ended up going to McDonald's (ew), and the next time we went out for food, Roberta dropped out of the group (I guess she decided she was awkward around me too...?), so it was Nacho, Beto and I for a few weeks. Then Nacho got a job in the industry (food industry), and quit working the extra shift. So now it's usually Beto and I who go to lunch together. I think I've become his new lunch buddy. His used to be Aaron, and mine was Nacho, of course, but we kinda have no choice except each other's company, but we get along, so it's fine.

Our conversations have usually revolved around foods we like, casual anecdotes about friends or classmates, maybe a few light-hearted family stories. Nothing deeply personal or anything, but that may have changed today. I'm not saying I mind, per se, but I do feel awkward about the subject matter. I mean, Beto's nine years my junior (I've known him since he was 19!), but he's got a good head on his shoulders. I can tell he was raised in a very traditional Mexican family, so he's all about hard work, honor and responsibility. I can get on board with that. And of course, since he is young (he's, what?, 23?) he does act with the rashness and immaturity of his age at times. Some of our casual conversations have been about drinking shenanigans, of course. And that's what our conversation was about today, actually, until it wasn't anymore. He mentioned Aaron, and how he binge drinks and won't stop, even though he's now in his 30's like me.

I've known Aaron for eleven years now. We got hired together. We are exactly eleven months and two weeks apart in age. (I'm older, so I win!) I've known for a while that he's got drinking problems; I've known for years. But Aaron and I never became close. We started to, and I think that's reflected in past entries from this journal, if you dig way, way back through the archives of this thing, but the relationship never matured into a real friendship. Mainly because I lost a lot of respect for him after Denise got hired. I was so disappointed in him. He had let me down before, even back when we first started working together. Not even 30 days into our new jobs, and he missed a day of work because he got arrested for a DWI. I had been sick with worry the day before I found out why he missed, because he reminded me of Marco for some reason. I remember asking Marco to watch over him at the time. I was such an idiot.

But anyway, all that's in the past. All that matters now is that we had an almost-friendship. I cared about him at one point, but never as much as I've grown to care about Nacho, or even as much as I cared about Sarah at one point. Still, I feel Aaron grew more attached to me than either one of us care to admit. When his girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend, and ex-coworker) Natalie began to work at UPS, she sought me out, just to specifically tell me how highly Aaron thought of me. She wanted to be my friend, she told me, because I was important to her boyfriend; I was a person he respected greatly. At the time, Aaron and I hardly spoke to each other anymore. I remember feeling slightly dismayed and at a loss for words. When his father died of cancer, I think I was the only person from the night shift (other than Natalie, who was still his girlfriend at the time) who attended the funeral. And when my father passed away, I was stunned to see him show up at the burial. I hadn't even told anyone of the details of the funeral arrangements, so he had to have looked up the obituaries or something. Even Nacho, who was already a close friend by then, and Alex, who knew my dad, didn't show up. No one from work did, though I didn't expect them to. But I definately didn't expect to see Aaron there at all. We didn't talk at all by then.

As the years have gone by, I've watched him grow, but not really mature. He's grown a beer gut, and from what coworkers say, he's still out partying, getting wasted. I used to worry, but stopped giving a shit long ago.

So when Beto started telling me about yet another Aaron-binging story, I laughed it off, tried to keep the tone casual. Then Beto told me of a time Aaron let him down (work-wise) because of his drinking problem. How he got angry at him and bitched him out (the younger telling off the elder, how's that for shameful?), and how Aaron apologized and reached out to Ruben (our supervisor), asking for help, admitting he was an alcoholic. And then, I couldn't keep the casual tone going anymore. I mean, what cold-hearted bastard could? At that moment, Aaron reminded me a lot of my dad, and my heart broke a little for him, because he's so young to be in that place already. I told Beto what I've believed for years already: that any and all types of addictions are escaping mechanisms. Whether it's an addiction to a drug, alcohol, sex, or even something as mundane as video games, sugar or chocolate. I told him that I didn't believe Aaron could fully break away from the alcohol without first facing and fixing the underlying problem. I wanted to comfort Beto, tell him Aaron would grow out of it eventually, but I couldn't. Because I feel Beto told me this because he worries about Aaron the way I used to, years ago. Because Aaron is his friend, and he cares about him. I don't understand it, but there it is.

Beto told me he couldn't understand what it is that Aaron could possibly be trying to escape from. He comes from a well-to-do family, he's got a great job (Aaron because a UPS driver this year... career-wise, at least, he left me behind in the dust a long time ago) with awesome benefits, and apparantly a girlfriend who puts up with his drinking and infidelities. I countered that Aaron's life may seem awesome on the surface, but that doesn't mean he sees it that way. His family has always had money and influence (they're in the local school districts and business world), so he may not know when someone's approaching him out of genuine friendship or just materialistic interest. I remember him telling me that he wouldn't really see eye-to-eye with his father. The cancer took him quick, or at least faster than Aaron thought it would. Maybe he didn't get closure from it all.

And I told Beto that life is whatever hell we make it out to be. I told him how I lost Marco in highschool, how I hit rock bottom after the Dud got deployed to Kuwait, how I used to cut myself with a hunting knife because I felt my life was so miserable. He looked at me, stunned. I snapped out of it, eventually, but it took me a long time to do so, and it was actually my sister being deployed that made me muscle past my pain and focus on my mother's. I didn't go in to the subject of my multiplicity, which I feel is what really saved me; getting to know myselves and working together to build a better me. I don't know what Aaron's answer is, but I hope he finds it soon.

Because despite everything, I do believe Aaron is worth more than he wants to be. He has a naturally generous spirit, and he's kind. I remember that much about him, which is why his immaturity disappointed me so. He's quiet and reserved about his emotions, or he masks them with liquor. But he is kind, and he likes to make people laugh. He reminds me so much of Pifas it hurts me, just typing this.

In the end, I guess 'Ama is right, and I have an overprotective nature. I won't lie and say I've suddenly grown fond of the guy, but seeing Beto's concern for him reminded me that Aaron's a guy worth being concerned about. He has his good qualities. I wish I could help him, but I don't know how to reach out to him now. Hell, he's driving now, so I rarely see him at all. I hope what I talked to Beto about helps Beto understand his friend better. Maybe he can help him in a way I'll never be able to.

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