Yesterday my very best friend that I don't talk to turned thirty. Today, if he had lived, my best sleep on the couch drink all my beer pee on my toilet seat make me laugh till I puke friend would have turned 28. Tomorrow my Aunt Lynn died a year ago. It's three days that make me feel lost, lost in time, little girl lost.
Nyna, I called her Nyna in high school, she was my high school wife. The girl I'll never get over. When we met she was so shy she had her childhood friend call me to invite me to her birthday party. I'd never known a girl like her. I remember her hair, it was a universe of curls, a tangled wood, she let me plunge my hands into it until my hands disappeared and I would stay clutched there, wanting to make her mine. She had purple hands and toes, so different from my own, and her skin smelled like amber, and sometimes like sesame.
We were in the same classes. Somehow, in freshman English, our teacher decided that she and I already knew everything (no lie, this is true) and so we didn't have to do the assignments or read the required texts. We were allowed to read whatever we wanted to read and then report on it. We read My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Rothko and interpreted it a metaphor for child abuse. We read that strange book about rabbits, that made me feel as though I had a hole in my head. She taught me all the lyrics to Suzanne, by Leonard Cohen and we would sing it in the courtyard of the school. I made her sing. She didn't want to. Her singing voice was not strong, but it was perfect.
I broke her heart, and then she broke mine. It was like our love was too strong and strange and we were kids, still figuring out love. We were hurtling full throttle into life, not backing down, not looking where we leaped, not being careful we wanted life and freedom and fuck all and no regrets but I was not careful and she was too sweet and too beautiful and we both got damaged. At some point I leaped and looked back and she was not by my side. She had better things to do.
A few years ago I went to her wedding and wept the entire time. It was too beautiful, just like her. What is it about friends, these girlhood child friends we have when we are young that make pale the relationships of older age? I cannot love another like I loved her, it hurts too much, it is too dangerous. We must contain ourselves. And now she is thirty and has a baby and I still dream about her.
One time, before she was married but after my divorce, I had a potluck at my College Ave apartment and it just happened to fall on her birthday. She called and said she was in town and I made a chocolate pudding cake and cut her name out of pink postcards and glued them on toothpicks and stuck them in it. Then Joe came by and it was his birthday too, but at midnight, and so the cake then said Joe as well.
I'll call him Joe because his name is Joe and he is dead and he cannot be embarrassed by what I write. When I moved into the apartment on College Ave, freshly separated from my husband, Joe and a boy who became my boyfriend were the first new people I met. I chose the other boy because he was taller and had better shoes.
At first Joe hated me. I remember one time at the Warehouse him telling me, "Shut up May, no one cares what you think". He was not afraid to be an asshole. But as time went on and I became the den mother to a wrestle and tug of sweet sweaty boys, we were thrown together more through proximity and at some point found that we were on the same team.
Oh I loved that time. It seemed like I was always cooking and we were always drinking and there were games and movies and midnight runs to the grocery store to make sandwiches. Joe often slept on the couch, or sometimes in his cab in the front yard, one time dressed like a pirate. Once we made sock puppets. They tried to teach me to play chess. One time Joe and another boy were trying to teach me the proper way to shoot pool and it involved them standing close behind me, their arms over my arms, hands over my hands, and my boyfriend got mad and we had to go home. We were often getting mad at Joe.
One time we got kicked out of the house Joe and I, by my boyfriend, and we went down to the Leon Pub to drink beers and shoot pool on the midget pool tables. My boyfriend and I had been having problems and I was upset. Joe stood at the end of the pool table, cue in hand, dark hair and dark eyes and pale face haloed by cigarette smoke and stinking of beer. He said "You know May, I will always be your friend."
And then too soon he was gone. He played banjo. He wore red swim trunks. He drove his car into a tree at four in the morning on my birthday. Today is his birthday.
I don't talk with the mutual friends we had back then very much anymore. Partially because when you break up with someone you break up with a whole group of people. Partially because when you get sober you have to change people, places, and things. That's okay most of the time, but it's this feeling lost, this wanting to say his name out loud and have someone else see his face. I miss him. I miss him so much.
My Aunt Lynn deserves a whole blog unto herself, any words for her are short shrift. Can I just say that there was no one like her? That she more than anyone else in my life inspired the beautiful and the absurd? That she faced the world with the most beautiful devil gap smile, that the wind blew only to push her hair back from her face. She was there when I was born, taking care of my brother while my parents welcomed me to Earth in a trailer in Lloyd. She taught us to throw the hair from our hairbrushes outside so the birds could make nests with them.
She cannot be gone. She is not gone. This is what I mean by being lost in time, that she is not gone, and Joe will show up with his banjo and his crooked smile, and Nyna is singing Suzanne and is still my friend and we are all old and we are all young and we are babies. This day is so cold and blue and the air is so thin it could fit a million souls inside and still have room for angels dancing on the head of a pin. It is not too much to feel this sad. It is not too hard to cry and miss and feel this pain. It is exactly right, this bigness of love, and gratitude to have met the people who are here for not long enough.
Sometimes I think I feel too much, that my body is not big enough for the feelings that I have. I am grateful today for my over emotion. To feel the world spin and time go back and forth and all eternity inside my heart, it is what it is. Today my tears and the blood in my ears are my poem to the people who will never be goodbye.