When D. called me the last time before I left, he was drunk and explaining a fight with a cab driver. He was coming back from a wedding. I heard the story in parts.
He had a bleeding leg, didn’t have cab fare, was coming from far away, where the wedding was, or something. I’m not an excellent listener.
I left my apartment to go to him. I took a cab.
He had burned a pizza. It smelled.
He played a song over and over. He asked me to dance. I did.
When it is the end, you succumb to people.
In between moments, he built a tower of a box and another box and a distortion pedal. It was twice our collective size. It dwarfed us.
He repeated. Don’t you see? Don’t you get it?
When we fell asleep, his sweat was alcohol. It stuck to me.
A. texted me the next morning. She said, Is everything ok?
I couldn’t find a sheet of paper to leave a note. I used a one dollar bill. It said, Please take care of yourself. I signed my name. I used a dash before it.
There is a part of yourself you go to when you feel alone with other people. It is calm, like a river running through you.
Weeks before, I admired a painting D. had above his bed, commissioned by a semi-famous New York artist. We looked at the painting together. I said, This is a cool painting. It is cool you have this painting.
We held one another.
I said more. It was an addendum. I said, My friend J. has a painting by another semi-famous New York artist.
In the early stages of knowing D., I had lunch with J. at a midtown restaurant. We ate dessert and smiled. J. said, I like D. Tell D. I like him. I said, Okay. I will.
When J. returned from a transformative vacation, he texted me my own name. It said, A. That was the introduction to the message. It was a different river. I let it run over my skin.
My father has a dead son. He tells a story about how he lost him.
In the story, he is on a gurney, after a car accident, pushed past the doorway of a hospital room where my mother is waking from consciousness. My father’s father is in the room. His head is in the lap of my mother. There is the white of his hair, falling over her, crying. Your son is dead. My father’s father is telling her the news. My father is watching.
She is half conscious. She is stroking his hair.
My father is looking through the frame of the door. I picture it crisp and fluorescent. A lit up room you see but do not enter. Once removed.
Here is what he says when he tells the story. Here is the endpoint. How could I not love this woman.
She lost the only thing. And she is stroking white, falling hair.
Before D. danced with me, rocking back and forth, we stood at opposite ends of a studio apartment. He listed reasons I should leave him. I asked the important questions.
The song kept playing. Each time, before it ended, he restarted it.
“Well nothing ever ends up quite like what you planned.”
There were other lyrics too.
D. let his body fall and rise. I let him hold me to the background of the stack of boxes. When it was morning, I was there, standing and watching him sleep, holding onto my own name.