Ken was not kidding; the living room looked like it was bursting at the seams.
“George!” Mom came running forward, wrapping me into a hug.
She was signifcantly shorter than me now. The top of her head was now just at my shoulder. ‘I’ve missed this. A motherly hug.’ “Hi Mom. This is my roommate, Jeremy. Dad suggested I bring him along.”
Without hesitating she stepped away from me and embraced Jeremy into a hug. ‘Haha. Jeremy looked shocked.’ He was definately not expecting the hug, but there is nothing anyone
can do about mom. Once she gets hugging it’s hard to get her off. ‘I really like that about her.’
“Hon. Let the boy go; he looks so confused,” Dad walked up to our small huddle, still by the front door.
Without thinking I walked straight to Dad a gave him a hug. It was a long awaited hug; hitting me how much I’ve missed my old man. Also, that I am almost Dad’s height; he only has about three inches on me. ‘A year and half has changed so much…’
“I missed you too son,” Dad spoke as I stepped back.
Collecting myself, “This is my roommate Jeremy.”
Dad extended his hand towards Jeremy. Jeremy recipricated, but what he didn’t expect was that Dad pulled him forward into a big bear hug. Jeremy once again looked like a deer in head lights.
“Dad let him go. He won’t ever come back if he is to expect this kind of welcome,” I attempt to pry my dad off of Jeremy.
“My bad. Go enjoy the party. I need to make a call real quick. I’ll be right back,” he directed the last part at mom, who was side glancing at him. Dad was gone.
“That man; always working. Enjoy yourself. I’m going to go check on the food,” Mom too dashed off disappearing into the kitchen.
“You good, dude?” I turned back to Jeremy.
“Yeah. Just wow!” Jeremy laughed setting his belongs down in the entry hall.
“I’ll say.” The voice came from behind us. Turning around there stood Jerry and Matthew.
“Bros!” I walked over to them and gave them fits bumps and slaps on the back. “I glad you two could make it. How was school Matthew? How’s it been, being back home Jerry? Anything new I should know?”
Silence. They were just staring at Jeremy.
I looked at Ken. As if he could read my mind, ‘Just like you earlier.’ I walked back over to Jeremy. Ken taking my place next to the guys; he started to explain.
“You good?” I asked Jeremy.
“Yeah. Just one thing after another. Your life seems to be in a whirlwind; it’s crazy,” Jeremy folded his arms in a defensive stance.
‘Ha.’ I thought my life was always pretty chill. Swim, school, eat, sleep, and repeat. Ken walked back over to Jeremy and I, bringing me back to the present.
“So…you two are friends now?…” Matthew pointed between Jeremy and me.
“Yeah,” I swung my arm over Jeremy’s shoulders. “Ken what did you tell them?” Jeremy still stood next to me; his posture still seemed to be on the defensive mode.
“I told them the gist of everything, but I didn’t know what all I could tell them,” Ken looked at Jeremy.
“So there are things kept from us; for his sake,” Jerry pointed at Jeremy.
‘Jeremy is doing a pretty good job holding back. Something I know about him and being pointed at, is it’s never a good combination; memories of his dad and old coach are probably in the forefront of his mind.’ “Ask anything,” wanting this conversation to be over.
“So. He apologized for the Jenny thing, that’s cool and all, but I can’t believe you just forgave him. He…” Jerry was all riled up. Matthew tried calm Jerry by placing a hand
on his shoulder. Ken too looked down and away.
‘What’s going on?’ “What is…” I tried to ask…
Jerry brushed off Matthew’s hand, “No. What made him into such a person? That he could say hurtful things and be forgiven easily. His life is fine, but he ruined other’s,” Jerry had taken a few steps towards Jeremy.
Jeremy’s body shiifted under my arm. I knew he was not about to hold still. Before I could do anything…
“Just stop,” Ken stepped in front of Jerry, stopping him in his place. “I left things out of the explanation because it was not my history to tell. I will say I reacted simllar to you both, but after knowing all the facts I’ve changed my opinion.” Ken paused, he looked back at Jeremy. “Can I tell them? I want to move past this.”
“Go ahead. I didn’t realize I was such a jerk in so many peoples’ eyes. Maybe I am more like him than I thought,” Jeremy huffed off my arm. But attempted to stand taller, awaiting the second attack.
Ken turned back to the guys and told them about Jeremy’s past.
I could see the understanding and realization spread across both Jerry’s and Matthew’s face. Hopefully this is the end of this. ‘Why is it so difficult for them to accept that people can change?’ Everyone changes at some point in their life; it’s called maturing. Ken was finished and backed up to us.
“Are you guys over yourselves? Everyone has some sort of crap in their life that sometimes hits them and causes them to explode. Jeremy did that day, and he has said that if he gets a chance he will apologize to her. I know things got out of hand these last two years, but it was not his fault. You can’t blame him for everything.” Ken was now actually pleading for Jeremy’s sake.
‘What?’ “What do you mean it got out of hand?” I stepped up in between everyone.
“Later. We need to pause this conversation and enjoy the party your mom has put together,” Ken stopped me; he turned to Jeremy. “They are somewhat good now. We will discuss this further tonight. Enjoy the party. Nobody,” looking at Matthew and Jerry, “will talk about this until after the party is done. Be on your best behavior,” and Ken walked off to the drink bar.
Jeremy relaxed a smidge and followed Ken.
‘I don’t know what is going on. But hopefully it will all be explained later.’
I looked to Matthew and he sighed but smiled; he came up and drapped his arm over my shoulders, “Dude, you’ve grown. You are now taller than me. Not cool. Jerry look,” Matthew angled us to Jerry. But Jerry still looked like his was fuming.
‘Why? Jeremy and him were teammates for two years, and there were no issues until he came back home.’
Jerry just walked away; he headed in the opposite direction of Ken and Jeremy. “What’s wrong with…”
“Not now, George. Or Captain Ken will chew me out. We will talk later. Let’s enjoy the party,” Matthew dragged me forward. “I’m hungry. Let’s go see if your mom’s food is done,” and we walked towards the kitchen.
‘They are all just changing the subject and not talking. I guess I find out what I am missing later.’