He was brilliant. He was beautiful. He liked me but I didn’t like myself. I laid down with him. It was all I could manage. I was trying to respond. He said: This isn’t what I want from you. But it was all I could manage. All I could offer. We kissed. That was all. I remember his lips were very, very soft.
We went our separate ways but always remained friends. He started his first career. I started mine. He met a girl. They moved in. I came over for dinner. She was nice. She loved him. She wanted a wedding. He was drowning. He asked for a ten thousand dollar raise at work, expecting to be laughed at. He wanted out. Instead, they gave it to him. Now he was really fucked.
New girlfriend. Pretty. Smart. They moved in. I met someone, too. We moved in, too. We came over for dinner. Conversation was heavy. Cracks in the surface. Ours were perceptible. Theirs were palpable. An uncomfortable evening but in retrospect it helps to have signs.
Did he email to tell me? How did I find out? He had left the new girlfriend. He was living on the street. Another experiment from my brilliant, above-it-all friend! Oh, he’ll have a rich experience and write a book about it next year. He will be on talk shows and the whole world will see what I already know: his genius. I was even jealous. Why couldn’t I do something like that?
One year. Two years. Three years. How long has it been? I asked. Four years. More. Slowly I let go of the experiment theory. I come to visit. He emails from the library. The last visit was the worst. Now he looked the part. Why? I asked. Why do you need to look like that? It’s just easier. He replied. No expectation, no let-down, no mistakes, just careful avoidance, and this is best. How long since my last visit? Two years. Two years! I am so sorry, my friend.
I love you.
I want to come pick you up and take you home with me and nurse you “back to health.” Ha! What the hell is that? He would laugh if he read that, I think. He will read it. I begged him to follow my blog. It makes me happy that he thinks I am a good writer. I like myself better these days, but I can’t pick up where I lost out so many years ago. If only I could turn back the hands of time. Famous last words.
Remember when I took you to the park and cut your hair? I know it’s easier to look like that but I just couldn’t take it and you obliged me. Remember you told me turn left, turn right, turn left, leading me in circles, desperate to keep me there because you didn’t want me to leave? You said those words. You were so naked, it hurt. “I don’t want you to leave.” I know I acted angry but it’s only because I don’t appreciate you breaking my heart like that.
I think of us. Me joining you on the street. You and me, raging against the machine. Or. You joining me in my little carved-out life. Maybe you’d work again. Part-time in a café. Maybe not. A stay-at-home dad? Either way, somehow, I fix you. Though I can barely imagine this second scenario. You’re too smart for this way of life. That’s why you are doing what you are doing. Why you are where you are. It’s a choice. It is You who is rejecting This, and Not the other way around. I recognize that. Again, I think: Why can’t I do something like that?
You are brilliant. You are beautiful. You are my friend. I love you and that’s enough now. It’s time to come home. Let’s write your incredible story.
Blank blank blank.