I moved back in with my parents when I was 21. I’m not proud of it but that’s the way it goes.

Generally speaking, when you move out of your house, the intent is to continue moving in a forward direction. Unfortunately, I had put myself in a bit of a situation and the only solution was to move back home, go to college, and get a shit job as a pizza delivery guy at a restaurant that shall remain nameless at this point. We’ll call it Pizza Town. (That’s a whole different story for a whole different day.)

The weird thing about moving back to the town where you grew up after being gone for three years is how little things actually change. Same old friends doing the same old things. Driving around the same old town in the same old cars, looking for something and finding nothing. It was enough to crush a man’s spirit, and I had at least three years of it ahead of me. My girlfriend was in New York City. I had no idea how I was going to get through it. But I did have one thing going for me. Her name was Amy.

I had known her for a while. She was one of the old friends I mentioned above. Toward the end of high school, a friend of mine moved to her block and we all started hanging out together. I always had a thing for Amy. Most people who knew her did. She was pretty and I thought she was very sweet. She had such a great spirit, you know. Up for anything, but still self-aware. She went hippy, but not like FULL hippy. We saw Phish shows together. When I left for Syracuse she came to visit me. And when I moved to Denver, she was the only friend who came to visit me.

She was still finishing up college when I moved back home so we’d see each other every now and then; she would come home, I would go visit her there. And when she graduated, she pulled “The Full Randy” and moved back in with her parents.

And thank God for that. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her those years. Amy was my girl. We never dated, it wasn’t like that. We were just there for each other. We were both living in our parents’ homes at the time, too old to be doing so and cognizant of that fact. So we clung to each other, providing sanity and interesting conversation in a town devoid of either. Friends came and went all around us. Some moved on, some took the dark path and got lost along the way. But Amy was always there.

Because I was a Journalism Major at Lock Haven University, I had access to the radio station. It was closed circuit, which meant you couldn’t pick it up in town or in your car. NOBODY listened. I had a show Monday nights at 11:00 p.m. and Amy would co-host some nights with me. We’d sit down in front of the mic, talk to people who weren’t there, get drunk and play music for two hours. It was beautiful.

After I left Pizza Town I got a job at The Down Under Steakhouse. I’d link to it but I’m pretty sure they’re out of business. The Down Under was a cringe-inducing Outback Steakhouse knockoff. All of the menu items were named after places in New Zealand, not Australia. We didn’t have the Bloomin’ Onion, we had the Burstin’ Onion. (“They have the Big Mac, we have the Big Mic.”) I got her a job waiting tables at the restaurant. We worked there together until she got a real job.

When I joined up with Minus Bluff, Amy was our roadie and came to every show. Her real job gave her enough money to move out of her parents’ house well before I could. Her first order of business was to basically let the entire band practice there, record there, and live there. And it was at Amy’s birthday party where we played our last show. Her favorite song of ours was called “Timmy.” We changed the lyrics to “Amy” that day in her honor. It was our way of thanking her for being there for us the whole time.

Soon after — that day, actually — it was my turn to move on. On to Illinois, on to the next chapter. Amy and I went our separate ways, lost touch the way old friends do. But I’ll never forget those years. The Amy Years. We helped each other survive a tough, wandering, directionless time in our lives and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

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