I went out to the Pacific with an alcoholic Montanan who ran the camera for a weather program and had a Jeep that smelled like soup.  I bought a key and put it on a chain around my neck and bad coffee and the rain found every unsealed part of whatever I was wearing and put its hands in there, and jesus, it was cold.  He wanted pictures of us there on the sand and I didn’t want to lie but I said sure.  The first week in a new city, a year later, my car was broken into and the photos were stolen and it seemed like it was supposed to happen that way.


Going home is mostly a process of cataloging the things that no one could’ve seen coming.  We were sixteen, we were on a bus.  Shelly and Jay were doing something on the back seat that made her giggle and I was ignoring it and my shirt had gotten wet at practice so I was wearing Jay’s and it smelled like laundry soap and male sweat.  His dad would die in an accident.  Hers, cancer.  They’d both have twins, with other people.  The light climbs the hill and the day goes down and I think about the two sets of children and other people’s symmetries.


The year that I left school I sat parked in the dark driveway of the house where my therapist had an office and the stars were out.  Nothing felt like it was actually happening so I’d play a game where my choices could be things that only people in books would do.  I will say that I am going to get the bus, I will walk down to the lake instead and lie in the tall grass and wait until enough time has passed and then walk home again.  It is cold and I hate it but it is a story so I have to do it.  And so on.  My therapist seems to know this is going on but I say the right things and she’s willing to let things slide and we spend two hours, twice a week, talking past one another.  The dead space expands in my chest and she calls it rape and I call it I told you so and we shake hands and say I will see you next week and I take the long way home, in the dark.


The clutter creeps up on you.  This is why we go walking at night, even in the cold, especially in the cold.  The dog makes a silvered noise down the sidewalk.  We watch out for the ice.  Our words start in facts and end in fictions, predictions we make, beautiful things we’ve saved.  You are my friend because it is what I will allow.  I am your friend because I am not beautiful.  The dog loves, fiercely, both of us, maybe for different reasons.  We come home on empty streets. We feel clean.