My best friend is buying a house. He is buying a house but not here, not anywhere close to here. Not close enough, by a long shot.
But he is buying a house, which means I am never going home.
You can find all the old stories, if you look. They are practically the only thing I remember about myself, so formative to the person I see in the mirror every day–when I bother to look. It is a story inked in the tiny details of the fantastic tattoo that wraps around my entire right-hand side.
It is my story, our story, tangled up and intertwined and inextricable, one from the other. It is who I am, who I wish I was, what we will never be–past, present, and future.
My best friend is buying a house.
Texting, he asks, “How was your Friday? What’re you doing?” I know him; this isn’t a prelude to Tell me what you’re wearing, what color are your panties. It’s just a question, like you would ask anyone.
I think: I am trying to listen to the crack of bones, the disintegration of a soul as it leaks from the pores of a broken body, trying to hear the hot liquid splash of a heart as it breaks free from the mortal cage.
I say: “I’m trying to write a thing. I know how to fix my novel, finally. I know what to do. But I am having a hard time doing it; it’s hard to be so honest, to throw all my secrets onto an open page for anonymous consumption. And so I read, or binge-watch television programs I can’t remember as soon as I turn them off, but I am listening, listening for…something. Inspiration, maybe.”
There is a pause, thoughtful and long. Then I see, ___is typing.
He says: “Wow. Most of the people I know just drink beer and watch football.”
I digest this. I have always found it hard to reconcile my friend with his friends. But he is easy company, content to relax with less than I. I, who get tired of the inanities, the polite chit-chat, conversations about celebrities and politics and workroom gripes.
I say: “That is all some people need. But I need more.”
We talk of other things and an hour whiles by. I need to go, he needs to go, there are other things that need doing and a life that needs living.
We do not talk about my boyfriend. I do not ask if he is seeing anyone. The answers do and do not matter.
We disconnect, and I wonder how it is that twenty years have gone by. There are so many theories, so much helpful self-help advice out there. It was never meant to be is a favorite. People come into your life for a reason or a season is another splendid chestnut. You are fantasizing about an impossible outcome to escape your present situation is a bit more acerbic but still also applicable.
The truth is that ever since I slammed that door, literally and metaphorically, I have been marking time, as surely as Edmond Dantes, for a future that will never come to pass. Yet I cannot stop counting the days, even as I cannot stop breathing of my own free will.
It is what it is.
I think that one suits best, for both of us.