College. Freshman year. The day I moved to Austin.
The paperwork from my dorm said I was supposed to be rooming with some guy named Jashin Something-or-other. It's a fair guess that he's Indian. So imagine my surprise when my mom, her then-boyfriend, and I walk into my dorm room to find a skinny pale blond guy passed out cold wearing nothing but a pair of tighty-whiteys. The nightstand next to the bed was draped with an American flag, on top of which sat several wine bottles that had been repurposed into candle holders. Poor Old Glory was covered with wax, and the floor was littered with ashes from both cigarettes and incense. The dorm had just opened up for the semester a day or two before, but it looked like this guy had been squatting here for months.
"Is that Jashin?" my mom asked, whispering so as not to disturb your slumber.
"I don't think so."
You woke up at some point while we were carrying my stuff in. You didn't get dressed, just sat up in bed, lit a cigarette, and dove right into conversation. Friendly as all hell, you introduced yourself as Pete. You spoke with the kind of drawl that's specific to the small town Texas stoner. I'm pretty sure my mom was horrified, but I had a feeling this was going to be a pretty good year.
We bonded over a love for classic rock, the fact that we were both Eagle Scouts, and a shared desired to keep the R.A.'s out of our room. You put up with my skronky guitar playing and I put up with you ashing all over the floor. Turns out, you were also a pretty amazing artist. All over our room, you could find pages torn from sketchbooks that were covered with your intricately detailed drawings. There was nothing you seemed to enjoy more than getting good and stoned, putting on some classic rock, and getting lost in a drawing. A few months in, you took your artistic pursuits to the next level and painted a mural of Jimi Hendrix across one entire wall of our room. It was an awesome piece of work, but I couldn't help but get a little stressed over the fact that it was in a room we were renting.
"Don't worry man, I'll paint over it at the end of the year."
I grew accustomed to having Jimi around. Of course, by the end of the year, you got kicked out of the place. I was never clear exactly why since you provided the management with any number of reasons. You'd graduated from having a little pot around to dealing all manner of shit out of our room. It got to where I didn't want to hang out there a whole lot. As such, I can't say I was all that sad to see you go. I couldn't listen to classic rock for a year after that.
I visited you the next year at your new place. Your drug issues had gone from harmless fun to being downright frightening. I never saw you again after that, but I recently heard through the grapevine that you found God, got all cleaned up, and have a family.