Mario Villalobos

On Spider-Man, a Friend, and a Broken Heart

  • Notes

I started blogging because of a girl. This was back in 2014, a genuine lifetime ago. I had moved to Montana a few years before, and this girl became my first real Montana friend. Friends is all we were, though I did want it to be more than that. Unrequited love and all that. We met at work—we both worked together—and I asked her out by using this cheesy McDonald’s pickup line: If you were a burger at McDonald’s, you’d be the McHottie.

Yeah, I really used that line. And it worked!

We had dinner together at her place. She cooked dinner, and we hung out and talked for hours. We could always spend hours talking to each other, and she was one of the few friends I’ve ever made in my life who I could carry a conversation that long with. We talked about anything and everything. We teased each other. She teased me over how I pronounced caramel (care-uh-male, obviously), and I teased her on how she held her coffee (with both hands, even with small cups—I don’t know, I found it funny). We could always find the time to hang out, and man, where did that skill go?

We stopped being friends two years later, two years after it seemed we were inseparable. I thought we would be inseparable. I dreamt about it. I told her about it, my dreams of marrying her, of having kids, of building a life with her here in Montana. And then it ended, our friendship, and I don’t think I’ve fully recovered. I’ve moved on, but I don’t think I’ve recovered.

A week ago, I began to play Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a game I chose to play because I knew it wouldn’t take very long to beat, and it was a game I knew I’d enjoy. I had played the main Spider-Man game years ago, and I loved it, and I hoped for more of the same. Once I started swinging through New York City again, I felt like I was back home after being gone for a few years. [Warning: Spoilers here on out.] Fighting Rhino was fun and challenging, and I sincerely felt worried when Rhino knocked out Spider-Man. But then Miles discovered he had this bio-electric ability (“Venom Power”) that he could use to defeat Rhino, which he did. Afterward, Pete told Miles that he will join Mary Jane overseas on a journalism assignment and that Miles will be the only Spider-Man in New York City for a while. And off the story goes.

During his adventures, Miles has a run-in with a group called the Underground, led by someone called the Tinkerer. The Underground are after this experimental power source developed by the Roxxon Corporation called Nuform. Spider-Man, of course, wants to stop this from happening. During Christmas dinner, Miles finds that his friend Ganke invited Phin Mason, a childhood friend of Miles and someone he hadn’t seen for a while. While they chat and reconnect, Miles had this feeling that something seemed off with Phin. Later, during one of the campaigns, Miles learned that the Tinkerer, the leader of the Underground, was, in fact, Phin, his childhood friend. Miles has this idea to infiltrate the Underground as Miles, with Phin as his way in. Once inside their headquarters, Miles changes into Spider-Man, and during this campaign, he goes up again Phin as the Tinkerer. During this fight, the Tinkerer kicks Spider-Man’s ass, but before she could finish him off, Spider-Man takes off his mask and reveals his identity to her.

Phin, of course, is angry at Miles for having kept this secret from her. She leaves him, all bloodied and beat-up. Later, Miles calls Phin’s phone, but he gets her voicemail. He leaves a message, but the operator tells him that his message was too long. He tries again, but the operator tells him that Phin’s number isn’t accepting voicemails. He tries one more time, and he learns that Phin blocked his number. I felt for Miles because my friend—my former friend—blocked my number, too. I’m not proud of what led to that, but it happened, and it’s part of my identity and history now.

For the rest of the game, I was reminded over and over of my former friend, of her anger, her laughter, our shared memories. There’s a moment toward the end where the game enters a flashback. Miles and Phin are teenagers, and they’re walking around the Oscorp Science Center. They had entered a science competition, and they were on their way to see it. As they’re walking around, they’re checking out different exhibits, and during it, they’re goofing off, teasing each other, and chatting about life. It was here where my memories of my friend were strongest. I haven’t really had a friend like her since, and every day I think about what I don’t have anymore. Is that selfish? Self-centered? I’m not sure. I’m the one that hurt her, after all. Do I deserve anything good?

At the end of the game, Miles absorbs the energy from a nuclear reactor using his Venom Powers, but the energy is too much for him. Phin, seeing that her actions put millions of people’s lives in danger, realizes that she screwed up and that her friend Miles needs help. She sees Miles trying to get away from everyone before he releases all that energy he absorbed. She grabs him and flies him up high above the city, and during this sequence, they both understand what is about to happen. For a brief moment, they become friends again, and they’re these two nerdy goobers again. But then Miles releases all that energy…

This game hit me hard, harder than I expected a game to ever hit me. That ending shook me so hard that that night, I dreamt about my former friend for the first time in a long time. It was a simple dream. It was just us together, smiling, laughing, like the good old days. I woke up that morning sad, sad that I wasn’t still dreaming, that I wasn’t in that world with my friend anymore. What we had was great, but it was temporary. Those moments will never exist again, and that just breaks my heart all over again.

I’ve moved on, but I haven’t recovered. I don’t know how one can recover from this. I started to blog again because of this girl in an attempt to be better, to never fuck up like that again. It’s been eight years, and I don’t know if I’ve made progress, but I do know that I haven’t had a friendship like hers since, I haven’t had moments like those moments I’ve had with her since, and I haven’t truly been as happy as I was when I was with her since.

Maybe I deserve this, being alone. Maybe I don’t. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have been alone for a long, long time. I spent Thanksgiving alone, and I will probably spend Christmas alone. The last time I celebrated my birthday with anyone was in 2014, and that was when she took me to the hot springs. I’ve tried letting other people in, but I’ve trapped myself behind these walls, walls I’ve made progress in breaking down this year, but walls that I still have up. Just today a friend texted me, “[Montana is] a good place for you if you stay social and not a recluse!”

I know this sounds lame, but I have to be like Spider-Man. Spider-Man, and heroes in general, sacrifice so much but they still get back up and keep going. I have to keep going, and I have to keep living. Maybe I didn’t deserve happiness soon after our friendship ended, but it’s been eight years… I think I deserve some happiness now, right? I have a hard time accepting that, but I have to. I miss those moments I had with her, but I also know I can have them again with someone else. So I have to keep marching forward and hope that I can find happiness again.

And fucking Spider-Man helped me realize that. What the hell. Anyways, four out of five stars, highly recommended.