Umbrella

I like how you look as though you’re fighting a smile when I talk. Jaws clench; a tremor across your lips. Your head moves infinitesimally, so as to suggest a nod. I felt this the first time we met.

I wonder how my sober self compares to the person sat on the edge of your mattress that night. I have come to conclude that first meetings should not happen when intoxicated. The bed frames were broken- a testament to the many strangers who had passed through. I too needed an escape from the chattering horde. So, I took refuge in your room and we passed the joint.

With heavy lids, we were introduced. And it was exquisite, the way you listened, the way a part of you seemed to agree with me. I told you that I’m anxious about making choices, that I hate how belonging demands exclusivity. How far can I go, how different can I be before I’m no longer a part of your circle? Is it possible to be bound together by one thing- by drugs even? Whatever my doubts were about the rest of the party, you assured me that I was worth getting to know. You made me feel like you had chosen to let me – a stranger- under your umbrella. With your blessing, any choice I made would be the right one.

We met up for coffee in broad daylight, tentative at first. Maybe you had changed your mind. Maybe I’m different today. You watched me drink coffee because you had already eaten, and my insecurities dissolved as you apologized for being distracted by the sunset behind my head. You were more articulate but as sincere as I had remembered.

After many failed attempts at meeting over spring, I saw you at a party. I didn’t expect to see you there and I almost didn’t recognize you. You had cut your hair and it suited you better; you looked less effeminate. I wasn’t prepared for the excitement that came over me. See, I’m over getting hammered. The stupidity, the temporary friends. But you didn’t feel like a forgettable remark, a shot of vodka somewhere between shot number five and whatever comes after. You weren’t a handshake and a name, nor a pawn in the networking game. There we stood by the door, preferring second-hand smoke to the reek of alcohol. Had I seen the creepy bathroom yet? The one with doll heads, ceiling collages and poor lighting? Yes, it was weird and I’m going to hold the pee in tonight. Besides learning about our shared pyromaniacal tendencies, I learned that I’ve finally found an American who can banter. What a model citizen you are, lighting cigarettes and opening doors. Although we had agreed upon tying me to the top of your car for a death-defying ride (since the seats were taken), I hopped onto the bus and you drove drunk people home (how responsible). It was a miserable ride back.

You’re going to leave the country for six months. I get it, you’re not sentimental. You worry about rambling and apparently your thoughts are hard to follow. But I need you to know that it doesn’t matter and that I am glad I met you (and scared this is the end).

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