Gabe and I met on a packed train. He was eying me from the other side of the car. A few stops before his, he leaped up to where I was and introduced himself. The people that saw thought it was a start to some romantic comedy, and my feet were clouds the entire day.
Nothing came from it, other than a few text messages, a couple make out sessions and me wanting more time than he could give me. I learned that in the same way addicts can’t date, neither can kids from equally broken homes. I learned that insult is less of an injury and more of a projection of insecurity.
I remember the inevitable fall out. Something about me not understanding that he was making a start up and how while he cared, I was second place by a long shot. I couldn’t connect to his sentiment, and inevitably I forgot mostly all about it.
Until the email I got before I left to Chicago.
“I know you’re leaving but I need to tell you that I’m sorry.”
In that conversation he opened up, about how I was the best thing that has happened to him since leaving the Carolinas and about how with one misstep, his business fell apart. He resonated with my fear of staying. We talked about a million other things, but he wasn’t a thought as I boarded the bus westward. I don’t regret saying that.
Even still I am reminded, more so than others who lasted longer. I hope for his wellness and that his motivation finds the right spot.
I’d be lying if I said the occasional check-ins aren’t wanted.
“November 16th, 2012.”
“You talked about the Christmas present you were making your friend.”
“I came over once before you left.”
“Do you remember?”
“I’m so sorry.”
I spent the week with my words curdling at the tips of my lips.
“It’s a side effect,” they said, “to being a poet right?” Crying. Like darkness is the absence of light, and light is an absence of dark- sometimes feeling too much and not at all cause the exact same thing- absence of sight.
So I spent my week blind, but I got by alright. I stalled out a couple times. You know, that’s what happens when I shut down, become sarcastic and shine the best scowl possible. My parts can’t get my process in order so I unstart myself. It’s amazing I got anywhere, never mind out of the lot.
My face was blue from spending the better part of three days choking on my own breath.
When I got back to my apartment, on a Thursday that wreaked of weekend, I tried to solve a financial fane with a saintly patience but the clock timed out. Monday morning promises its ship on the horizon, and I hope without an army it’s my fleet and not a pirate.
I put too much sugar in my coffee, even though I stomach black. I chased it with a beer to mimic the sensation of being in my own skin again. I smile when the contents of my cup swirls, creating a soft ripple. It’s the one thing I call my own today, and can if only for a moment.
I looked down at my once white undershirt that’s now an ivory. I sport my denim vest like my armor. I’m comfortable in black because it can wear the night sky.
I thought of myself in such a way that made my energy clean, in that I’m fringed and fragmented in all the right ways. I thought of the carbon copied houses on the outskirts of my city, and the ones I left in this year’s version of a century. I shed some spirit, releasing the earthquake in my chest. With my back against the cupboard and my eyes on the setting sun, I took a deep breath, I lived bohemia.