Storytime: Together in Paris

Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Today’s story: A dream we used to have when we were young.

He’s smoke. He’s going to go up in flames.

But he’s not like that when I meet him. In fact, he’s wholesome and all-American. He’s charming and too smart for his own good. An easy talker who spends long moments in deep silence before he shakes them off like a dog after the rain. He’s a looker who can’t seem to get beyond the boundaries of his physical form. He’s shorter and softer than average like me but he’s worldly despite having never left his hometown. He’s made of every inch of the Earth but spends most of his time with his head in the clouds. He’s the most unfurled person I’ve met who has locked himself so far into the closet that he keeps falling out of the other side. But most of all he is lost. Constantly, near professionally lost. And that’s how I find him.

And I love his damage because there was never a moment when I did not love sharp objects – when I couldn’t appreciate the way someone’s love could just cut through me.

He calls me at 2am. “It’s snowing and I want to roll the whole world up like it’s a big katamari. Just a giant ball made of good things.” I can’t handle joy at 2am, I hang up.

We have a sleepover and he whispers to me “Do you think you could still be happy if you were lying to yourself?” I let the words hang in his mouth for too long. There’s no pin drop. I cry silently from the top of the world while he cries silently stuck to the floor.

He holds my hand on the bus when the jostling suspension loosens my grip on the pole. The lights flicker on and off like a good dream gone wrong. “This reminds me of a song” he hums, eye glinting with the reflection of rain and lights. When he starts to sing I know all the words. I drown him out.

We’re drunk and dancing to the music that only we like. We’re walking in the snow with miles to go cursing the people who have loved us and hurt us in even measure. We’re laughing too loud in a quiet coffee shop at something that isn’t even funny. And the look on his face is always stuck between something too real and something so fake. And the smiles lines on his cheeks look like they’ve been carved with something other than time and rapture. They’re vengeful, as if someone scores them into his face every morning, dug in like they’ve never been given time to heal.

He tries to give directions but he just keep getting turned around.

We’re lost and the buses stop running. We’re lost somewhere out of town in our nice clothes. We’re sad and cold at the last bus stop starring at the map. He’s giving the teacher the real directions to a fake location. It’s absurdist. Everyone laughs.

The stairs in his apartment are broken. The thing that makes him feel good is broken. My heart is broken.

His heart is broken.

His heart is broken and he leaves.

He calls me on the phone to talk to me in languages I don’t understand.

He calls me on the phone to tell me he isn’t lost yet.

He’s in Italy. He’s in Russia. He’s in denial. He’s in Japan. He’s kissing a man in a German bar. He’s flirting in three broken languages somewhere in the Mediterranean. He’s in a panic. He’s telling strangers that he feels happy. He’s under the radar in Spain. He’s almost arrested on the border of Ukraine. He’s telling me he’ll come visit soon. He’s making love in someone else’s house in South Korea and laughing about how he never seems to get the hang of it. He’s reading a newspaper like he doesn’t even live in the future. He’s in Italy. He’s in Ireland. He’s losing his mind. He’s in [location redacted].

He takes his gift for talking in tongues and uses it to make all the money he never had. He takes all that money and tries to buy back his parents love. Buy back the time they stole from him. The feelings they withheld from him. The acceptance they just don’t have it in them to give. He looks at the pile of  money he earns and tries to exchange it into something useful but he can’t. It comes from a job that makes him lie. A job makes him never ask and never tell. All he can do is turn the money into self-doubt. Turn the money into fear and frenzy and crisis. Turn the money into the most expensive car he can find. And then he drives that car into a ditch.

He pays twice the cost of his disappointment with his life to fly that car to nowhere Texas. Which he hates. He buys me the most expensive piece of cookware that same day and tries to tell me that it’s just good manners. I’m lost on what that is supposed to mean.

He sends me checks. He says he’s paying me back. He says he’s taking care of me. I don’t cash any of them. He is too clever for his own good and starts sending gift cards instead. Trying to buy back the love I haven’t redacted. Desperately trying to find things he hasn’t yet lost.

He lives in a house alone with two bedrooms. He lives in a house with his ex. He lives in his house with two exes. He lives in a “it’s complicated but I’m doing great” house of lies. He lives on a pile of money. He lives inside his painful truth of searching and never finding.

He almost finds me.

He flies out to Portland. I drive three hours in the dark and he flies three hours in the dark but all we do is get drunk and stupid and laugh like wild animals. He doesn’t know how to be a human around me and I’ve never known how to be a human at all. We split the difference.

He steps out to smoke and gets lost. For three days and two nights he buys love in alcohol, in DVDs, in good food, in entrance fees, in cheap souvenirs. He doesn’t realize he buys my love with company. With candor. With the laughter that rolls out of him, fresh and clean, like a renewable resource he just discovered.

He buys my love in the hints of softness I can still see in him hidden under the layers of pain stretched over his skin. He buys my love in the quiet sobs he bites off while we both stare at the white hotel wall.

I almost find him.

I send him a locket with a map inside of it. The only way I can think to say “come and find me”. The only way I can help guide him back into the civilization of my arms.

But he gets lost following it. So lost that he may never be found again.

I hope one day we’ll be together again. The way we always dreamed and never promised. Together in Paris.

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