As the door closed behind me, I was suddenly enveloped in a dark, damp world of silence.
Wait, I wanted to say, let me back in, I change my mind.
I bite my lip, which tastes of syrup and cloves, and turn away while the drizzle coats me in a fine sugary mist that vanishes a moment later with my movement, shoes rustling on damp pavement, the bottoms of my pants wet and dragging through puddles of acid rain. I am, I sense, making the same mistake twice.
Oh, you’re the one who went to [famous university]?
Yeah, uh, where did you hear that?
Your dad…he talks about you all the time.
I wonder if he is as disappointed and bitter as I am sometimes.
And your sister, she does…art?
My? Oh, my half sister, yeah. She works for Sotheby’s. Christies?
That’s so amazing. I cannot wait to graduate and do something awesome with my life, you know?
Yeah, something awesome.
Her starry eyed gaze, her sense of promise and faith and hope, is too intense for me, and I drift out of the kitchen to stand in the back yard to stand with my face turned up into the rain, glasses slowly fogging. I wonder if this is what going blind will/would be like.
Hey, he says. How’s it going? You like it here?
Here here? The party here? Yeah. I just needed to step outside for a moment.
No, I mean…here, the City, how is it for you?
He is an old friend, still living in Fort Bragg, and I wonder what his life is like right now, if he is filling with the slow and urgent need to move. I was encouraging him to earlier in the evening, while I looked over his shoulder at someone else, and I feel bad about this. I want to face him, and devote my full attention to him. I turn my back to the house.
It’s the best decision I have made in the last year, I say, and I wonder if I am making the same mistake twice.
That’s awesome, he says. I am really happy for you.
Yeah…I love…I love everything. I love living with my friends and people I love. I love being down the street from all of these awesome, wonderful people, hugging my intoxicated roommate in a kitchen full of excellent human beings, wandering the streets of the City. I love taking the 108 in and eating food, I love riding BART, and ignoring the homeless people because they make me awkward, throwing coins in the Civic Center fountain.
I pause in my monologue for a moment and glance at him, wondering what his own problems are.
What about you, I say, what’s up with you?
And he tells me, and we stand surveying the street lights for some time, marveling at the sense of calm only steps away from rooms of crowded, laughing people filled with a zest for life. We drift back in, and I am sucked into the life of the party again, teasing, playing games, watching. Waiting.
Later I am sitting at the kitchen table in my quiet, calm house, drinking tea and talking about nothing in particular.
I wonder, glancing at him, if I am making the same mistake twice.