This is my friend who is badly hurt, I am going to tell you about him so when you say, “I am thinking of your friend,” or “I am praying for him,” or “I hope he gets better,” whatever you say to say–I regret the fucking stupidity of humans being made of soft stuff, making them such comfort and also so delicate– anyway you will have more to work with.
When I admit something, say, that I like a boy, he turns his head to the side and says, “Aw, Liz.”
When I saw a wicker chair on the porch and said I wanted to pretend to be FDR in my wheelchair, he jumped up to pretend to push me and we got a strange photo.
When I said I wanted to put up art in an abandoned house, he was there with enough clamp lights to light up three big rooms, enough extension cords to help me break the fire codes I wanted to break, and some big gorgeous prints of photographs he took, of Vietnamese children leaping into a river, and of three people on the street in Kansas City, looking squinty back like “What the hell?”
When it snowed he picked me up and took me and there were a couple of others of us and we were the only ones at the restaurant except the staff and the Rioja and the tortilla espanola and that goat cheese thing we always get and the green beans we like and the bread even thought it’s not the good bread they used to have and the patas bravas, those were mostly for me. There was the snowy street, in the low-lying part of Kansas City, the part that floods, all the great Mexican restaurants with plastic-covered menus and menudo and the bus station with signs in Spanish only and Royal Liquor with the bars on the windows and the underpass with bright murals. Across the street from the restaurant was Alcoholicos Anonymos which was always strange to see after you set down your empty wine glass.
We talked and talked and talked and passed around food, this was our snow day, when the schools closed, the university closed, everyone had gone home, we had gone out to have things to ourselves, we were the only ones in a warm red restaurant while only the odd car went by as slow as an iceberg, going home or on some emergency while we nested behind big plate glass windows.
Once we went to Mardi Gras together and as we walked back to our cars from the second line and the celebrating at the old musicians’ union hall, I did not yet make floats then, somehow we walked into an art gallery and they were playing “Billie Jean” and we just started dancing with them, these strangers, and then we went to our cars and went home. We didn’t meet them, we didn’t know them.
We went to a charity benefit party. Another friend had paid for our table, we had all met where we got coffee like ten years before. At the end of the party and auction we got afraid we had bid on something we did not have that kind of money, only our host did. It was a very fancy party, and I felt I could only barely pull off being there like I was supposed to be there.
On all the tables at the party were pretend buckets of paint being poured into pretend puddles of paint. We each took two of them with us. When I woke up the next morning, all of them were sitting around my car in my driveway.
Once we were on the edge of a river, in the middle of nowhere, at night, standing on the gravel in sandals, and I said, “Glow worms are real?”
And he said, “Yeah, Liz.” And he told me about them.
We should be iron.