It happened like this:
Sitting at my desk on a plan period, grading papers and looking around the room thinking, how could anyone possible have the time or energy for another person? How could anyone have enough leftover to give to someone else?
For the first time in my life when I thought, I want to be alone, I don’t want to date or think about dating or worry about meeting someone, I meant it. Before, there had always been a 1% part that cared about being single or alone or insert some societal expectation about dating. Not this time though. I really and truly didn’t care and couldn’t fathom actually dating or caring about dating. I was busy being a first year teacher. I’d lucked into a full year of subbing after my dream job at my dream school fell through. I was crawling out of a year of depression and worry and I was feeling pretty good about the future. ‘Tie a cape around your neck and stand in super-hero pose’ good. I was content, even edging toward happy.
My best dude friend and I were on parallel paths in the 2010-2011 year. We had become friends, oddly, on our last day as college students. We were in caps and gowns making jokes about middle names and somewhere between dubbing one another ‘cash money’ and ‘bling bling’we became friends. We became close through the stresses of our first year of graduate school, student teaching, and life in general.
Once, we spent a forty-five minute car ride listing nothing but the things that made us happy.
Once, when winter still clung to spring and the trees had yet to bud, we cataloged his comic books under an open window and didn’t speak a word for an hour.
Once, a waiter spilled beer on him the night before his big interview for his first teaching job and I laughed so hard I almost thought I was a bad friend, but no, I’m not, he’d have done the same and after he came back from mopping himself up with cheap brown paper towels we talked about loneliness and dissatisfaction and he said one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me.
He said, you deserve to be doted on, and I almost cried into my unspilled beer because I didn’t always believe those words even though I had said them in one hundred other ways to the young woman who starred back at me in mirrors and glass.
Well, it happened that two days after my ‘I can’t believe busy people my age date and I don’t ever want to date anyone ever’ desk declaration that this friend, more like a brother now after the year and a half we had, called and said, get-together and grilling and beer and conversation and today and I said, ok.
There are evenings that live in infamy in your memory because they are proof of a life well lived. I remember evenings with summer still clinging to the setting sun, long shadows, and open windows, conversation, and laughter in this way. Those moments are the makings of happiness. Those are the moments that if you were the director of your own movie life, you would record and edit into the perfect indie film about 20-somethings, honesty, and truth, and the magical capabilities of being young, and free, and hopeful. Those are the nights you can’t manufacture. They’re just good. It was one of those nights. The backdoor was open and the sun still refused to set too early. I was still in a summer dress and sandals despite the creep of a colder October.
Best Dude Friend and I hung out in the early afternoon before the rest of the mutual friends arrived. We grocery and liquor shopped and I made my infamous guacamole. And some ten minutes before the real shindig was supposed to begin, there was a knock at the door and an early arriver walked in and shifted everything in my brain and life around so easily it was as if it were always meant to happen.
(I wrote this last year, March 2012, but read it today and liked it a lot and decided to tell this story over the next bit.)