It was the night of my oldest friend's 21st birthday party. I went to her house all dolled up with a bottle of wine in my hands, ready for a night of fun and nostalgia. But as the evening went on I found myself more and more depressed. I kept trying to talk to people I had known for years and finding that I had nothing to say to them, or they to me. We'd grown up into very different people. They responded to this by talking around me as if I weren't actually there. I responded by sitting by myself, not having a good time at all. I didn't want to bring everyone down, so I slipped away unnoticed.
There was one friend I had at the time to whom I actually could relate, and who even made the time to see me reasonably often. He may not have been big on talking things over, but when I was upset he was always there with a beer and a guitar hero controller, sometimes even a remote controlled tank that shot actual tiny bullets. That was enough for me.
The codename that my housemates have insisted on for this guy is Binny, due to the fact that a lot of my stories involve him and they are a bit convinced that he doesn't actually exist. For the last year or so I spent in Newcastle, he and I spent most of our time together. We were both social outcasts who needed each other for our minimum daily requirement of human interaction. All of my other friends hated him for the way he jerked me around, but I needed him. My life had reached a point where I didn't really have anyone else that I could rely on, even if he wasn't the most emotionally stable of people.
When I left the party I found myself unsurprisingly heading towards his house. I arrived just in time to see him crash his motorcycle. He had only been wearing shorts and a t-shirt, with no helmet. Apparently he had been drinking alone before I'd arrived. I don't think he hit his head, but his leg was cut up pretty badly. I freaked out and grabbed my phone to call an ambulance, but he yelled me down and told me to leave him alone for just a minute. He didn't want an ambulance. I don't know why, but he didn't. When he went into shock, he conceded to let me call a cab to take us to the hospital.
I paid for the cab and helped him to the ER. I bought him a bottle of coke, thinking he could really stand to keep his fluids up. I sat down next to him, freaking out for the safety of one of the few remaining people in the world that I actually really cared about. It was then that he turned to me and told me he would prefer it if I left. He told me flat out that he didn't want me to be there.
I stormed out of the ER frustrated, alone and trying not to make a scene. Unfortunately the situation was well past the point of not turning into a scene. And, well, if you are going to make a scene an ER is probably a pretty reasonable place for it. They'd be used to it, if nothing else. Once outside, I collapsed in the gutter and started bawling my eyes out. I don't know how long I was there, sobbing, still wearing the cocktail dress from the party. No-one from that party ever asked me where I'd disappeared to that night. I assumed that my absence hadn't really been noticed.
I eventually managed to compose myself enough to arrange for someone to come drive me home. To add insult to injury, when I got home I realised I'd left my wallet on the footpath outside the hospital.
I did get my wallet back, though. And Binny did apologise to me for the way he'd acted. He admitted his pride had got the better of him. Apparently after I left he started bleeding quite profusely and had to be rushed to surgery. He admitted that my actions had saved his leg, maybe even his life. I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't forgive him, not this time, but we somehow found ourselves slipping back into the way things had always been. It was as if the whole thing had never happened.
It wasn't long after that night that I left Newcastle for good. It's now been more than a year since I've been back to my hometown and I'm kind of hoping that I can continue to make excuses to avoid going back for as long as humanly possible. People are always saying that running from your problems is not the best solution, but sometimes it's pretty much the only option.