Earlier today, I was sitting on my bed looking around my room, trying not to think about the time since Daniel and I won’t be talking for a while, when I remembered I should write a letter to my friend Ruben. I went over to one of my bookcases to get a monkey card that I bought at Half Price Books when I realized that my photo albums were right next to the box of cards. Of course, I took out one photo album and started flipping through it and then another and another until I had seen them all.

Most of my pictures are of Halloween or my nieces and nephews. I have tons of pictures of Ricky, my cute little nephew whom I love to pieces. I also have a lot of pictures of Joann, his oldest sister and my oldest niece (she’s now 19).

Every time I see those pictures of Joann, it makes me sad. When she was still in high school, we used to hang out a lot. Usually, we’d go watch a movie or go walk around Target and then eat something cheap like McDonalds or Peter Piper or Slurpees and nachos from 7-11. When I was on the diet of all diets with the strict exercise regime, we’d walk around her neighborhood at a brisk pace for a couple hours.

When she and her family moved to the other side of town, I would pick her up on weekends or during school breaks and she’d spend a couple days at my house. When I was working at Wal-Mart, she went to work with me once and she realized it was no fun. When I applied to U of H and came to tour the campus, she came with me.

Throughout all those years, we used to always make plans about how things were going to change once she graduated. She wouldn’t have to live with her psychotic mother because we’d be living together. We were going to find a cheap little house in central El Paso or maybe on the lower east side and put lawn furniture in the living room and living room furniture on the lawn. We were also going to have four microwaves and she was going to give me all her paychecks so I could take care of her finances. We were both going to be in college and I’d have some long distance lover, preferably Billy.

But when I started my UH plans, she started dating this guy and working at Burger King and everything changed. We never saw each other because she worked late and I worked semi-bankers hours at Wal-Mart. By the time I was ready to leave, there was a Grand Canyon between us. We had missed too many movies, Slurpees, and plain cheese pizzas.

Looking at the pictures, there is one from a baby shower for her mom where I’m sitting on the couch and she’s sitting on the floor. I was sick as hell that day, but I had asked for the time off so I could attend the baby shower. When it was over, she went home with me and we went to watch some movie. This guy I was dating at the time met up with us after the movie and we all went to Denny’s. As soon as she got a chance, she said, “I don’t like him. You can do better.”

We were always looking out for each other like that. But she did it more that I did. Now, she’s two deep with some guy who’s just using her. Instead of telling her what she told me at Denny’s that night, I told her to take care and told him it was nice meeting him.

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