a week went by. a week is a long time. it's not a long time for a student tripping over bargain fiction skidding on the race to Friday. but it's long for a boy not yet a man to speak with his burgeoning college friend and see what's going on. it was weird to have a friend. weirder to have a friend who was a girl. my first such friend. i really enjoy it, i see what all the fuss is about. she's a bony shoulder to cry on. i am happy and gay. i think what i appreciate most is she doesn't think me some creepish stalkerized weirdo, which i imagine is what most people cast me as.
when we meet in the lounge the first thing we notice is the pillows are cozier. our rumps appreciate it. we are in love. mutual love. with sandwiches. the way we describe sandwiches, which most take for granted, the texture of the spongy sourdough, the filling of the holes, the way the spread holds the layers together in a gooey gelatinous tasty glue.
me: i don't eat a lot of salami anymore. i notice after a big helping my lips start to smell smoky. they smell as if I've smoked an entire carton of cigarettes. this is my way of trying to quit. does this happen to you?
Auverin: what'd you get for Christmas this year?
well that was a loaded question. one which made me face the stark reality of many things rolled in one.
me: i don't remember. this last year was the first year i didn't go home for Christmas break. you may find that odd...
Auverin: no i get it. but i examine my impulses.
me: i just felt if i was ever gonna live on my own, i better start living on my own. i love my parents which made the decision harder. and for me. i simply had to burn the nest down and cut the safety nets. boy was that a miserable decision. i foolhardedly convinced myself the city christmas cheer would supplement any doldrums i had of missing the only people who actually cared for me. i spent lonely nights caressing the long hilly urban streets mittens in my pockets walking fast like a department-store Santa who just got fired for drinking. it made me clam up more, trust others less.
Auverin: mostly yourself.
Auverin polishes her stainless-steel water bottle with her tongue which wraps all the way around the bottle.
me: i felt a part of me would go missing forever. i lost my membership in the family. that year's photo album would be painfully blank. i would never know what that Christmas was like, a black hole would follow me like a Grinch who wants to sing. so in order to get some of that good will back, to recapture what wasn't there, to right a wrong that could never be retrieved, i started to think back to the last Christmas. the one i spent with my beloved folks. i remembered extra hard, making sure to affix those memories to the front of my brain.
me: i remember distinctly. each pane of wood i cleaned off. my house is stucco but the enclosed porch is wood where the roof overhangs. it's one of those areas that seems clean but in fact had never been cleaned. it was my job to spruce. holidays after all. at the time i must have thought this a pain in the ass, but my ass was skinny so it wasn't mean enough. i searched the house frantically for a broom, the rest of the fam was off at Macy's which must have expedited my next year's decision. nowhere to be found. i saw that broom everyday in my room but the one day you need the broom it's moved. so i painstakingly got the roll of paper towels and did it that way. using a den chair with a softee seat mind you, not a ladder, i reached with my gangly arms and swiped---instead of swept---each square of board till all the cobwebs were wiped. i wrenched around that filthy lantern lamp caked to the brim with dead insect wings, squishy larvae, and desiccated eggs which were once aborted fetuses. that was one fucked-up lantern lid. every corner, every line, every brown spot, till it was actionable. of course from afar it didn't look like anything. all in time to make the place presentable for the electrician. the electrician comes by and in a flash connects the NightStars thingie. it's a lamp that you pierce into the dirt flowers opposite the porch and it rains cool little stars on the side of your house to rid yourself of clumpy wire christmas light tangles once and for all. no way did he see the space or inspect its antisepsis. that electrician was busy admiring his long extension cord. he quickly plugged it in in the porch and went to his office Christmas party at Denny's. i used an entire roll of paper towels for that job, the trash can was filled to the brim with my damp dabs of dirt. i looked directly into the NightStars kettle and burned my eyes out for an hour. when i came to, i slid open the laundry slat door and the broom was right there.
Auverin: i like to put my used orange peels into the recycling bin, gives the oily junk a tangy fragrance.
me: i leave whole oranges in the bathroom. on the toilet lid. don't you eat those oranges tho.