“To hard-ons & heartbreak” (circa 2015)

We clink our Irish coffee mugs together at a high-top table for two on the second floor of Slainte and smile.

“Cheers,” she says.

“To hard-ons and heartbreak,” I reply.  We laugh and take a biting sip of coffee.

Earlier that morning, I found myself outside in the glaring summer’s sun without shades, wearing last night’s clothes, old and dirty, and smelling like sex.  My sandals on the sidewalk make a particularly tense clopping sound as I walked the block to my car, the wrong way first.  My face lit up as Pablo, my old reliable red Honda Civic, comes into view.  He starts right up, as always, and I proceeded home.

Last time I stayed the night there was in a particularly manic drunken state,where my intentions were not so clear and bold.  Nowhere as clear and bold as last night.  

I laid on my stomach, awoken by the morning sunlight, stark naked, with my head turned towards him.  For maybe half an hour, I drifted in and out of a sleep state, depending on what he was doing.  A few times he touched me in a way that revealed his intentions, but I wasn’t feeling like doing much but dozing off, hiding from the hangover that was starting to creep on.  There’s a comforting feeling in knowing that someone is watching you sleep, really genuinely caring, that redeemed his desires.  

It was only right that we had a night together before I leave, before I’ve disappeared completely.  It didn’t even need to be spoken.  I knew he knew.   Part of him may hope that it’ll happen again but I can tell you he’s brighter than that.  It’s hookup culture, baby.  I live intimately only in hours of drunken stupor.  It’s the only way I know how to open up again and again.

Now I sit, listening to my best friend talk, listening to her worry about everything about other people that she can’t control.  She cares a hell of a lot, I’ll give her that.  I explain things about the people that are causing her worries, that most people need different things from romantic relationships than us.  She understands then and calms down, accepting that different people have different needs.  We chat more waiting on our brunch, speaking now on friendship, as we often do, and comparing other peoples’ bond to our own.

“That’s it,” I realize, “I know I can always call you to just be around me.”  I pause briefly,  “But I also know that when I don’t want to be, you’re still ok.”

She nods in agreement, smiling and saying, “You’re my best relationship.”


The hardest part

The hardest part about having a friend who’s an addict in having a friend who’s an addict  There are times where they’re completely unable to be your friend, but they also aren’t capable of communicating it.  

Next thing you know, you’re waiting in a sketchy part of town in a Royal Farms parking lot for a more than reasonably average time it should take a person to shit in a public restroom.  You wait.  You don’t know what to do so you wait more.  

After fifteen minutes goes by you start to get mad, and if you’re me, mad means severe introversion.  You make resolution with yourself while you wait.  You decide to drop the person off at home, because it would be a completely shitty thing to leave them so far from home, still considering their feelings when they’re so inconsiderate of yours, because your mother raised you by the golden rule, but once you drop them at home, you tell yourself, you won’t talk to them anymore, at least for a month.  

You sit steaming in your resolution for ten or fifteen more minutes, but you stopped keeping track of how long it actually was once your temper started to flair.

They finally come out of the store, eyes low, unseemingly relaxed for just spending twenty five minutes locked in a public restroom.  They flop down in the passenger seat, and you know, immediately, that they’re high.  

You don’t speak.  You try to reason with yourself, trying to imagine the best possible scenario of them not using, in this seedy public restroom just outside the west side hood of Baltimore City.  You really hope inside that you’re jumping to conclusions and they just had to take a particularly uncooperative shit.

Then they open their mouth and justify your initial anger.  You’re mad that you even began to give them a second chance, all in that short ninety second period it took them to plop down in the car, close the door, and put on their seatbelt.  They don’t sniffle, so you know it’s really bad.  Then they want to tell you a story.  

You don’t want to hear it.

“This guy came beating on the door.”

I inferred it was a single stall restroom.  The right environment.

“I yelled out a him, ‘what? I’ll be out in a minute.”

The store clerk knew a junkie would hole up in his bathroom for a quick fix.

“I mean, jeez man, can’t a guy take a shit in peace?”

I barely respond, nodding only slightly as I back out of the parking spot.

As I look over my shoulder out the rear window of the car, I catch glances of my companion.  It’s dark, but I can make out some indicative body language.

He slouches forward in the entirety of his back and in his neck, his head has dropped a little lower than normal.  In his left hand, he grasps his phone, looking down at it, the light illuminates his face.  His features are overly relaxed.  His eyes appear to be only half open.  He doesn’t notice me sneaking glances at him.  He thinks that I’ve bought his lie and I leave it that way.