9.16.2012

Post 500: This is what it feels like to fall in love.

He has this thing where he can walk through any doorway. This may seem on the surface like a feat you are similarly capable of, but you may never have lived in a city that boasts more doormen then doctors, where lists define who gets to walk through and who does not.

"Just act like you're so obviously on that list that no one needs to bother checking." 

I cannot tell you how many times I've let him walk into some club or backstage somewhere ahead of me only to be greeted by the thick arm of a bouncer. Thank god I'm a very good talker. I always have to start with something like: "But, my friend Rob is already inside." 

Like me, Rob loves to travel. About eight years ago he sent me an email from Chicago that read: "Greetings from Chicago! It is like the illest place to coast to coast to midland toast! Bling bling!" In case you were wondering, that is a direct quote. 

We call each other every single year on our birthdays. Without fail. 

His is literally the only phone number I know by heart, and he never changes it.

My best stories all include him. 

One day Rob picked me up at work on Alton in his teal Jetta, and as I climbed in the back seat I was met with the outstretched hand of the hottest racially ambiguous Portlander I've ever seen seated next to me. We spent a half hour ride as merely 'Matt' and 'Miranda', intermittently trading stories of The Pearl District and the new Albina while I spent the bulk of the journey chatting with Rob. A few hours later I found out it was M. Ward. 

Oh! And on his thirtieth birthday Rob and I were on Washington getting tattoos when two girls walked in. The short version is that I told one of them that my nickname was Milkshake because of a Louis IVX song, and watched her face suddenly contort into a frown with a matching half-dropped jaw. That girl was fucking Kelis, and Rob still laughs at me for this.

Actually we were getting matching tattoos that day--we each got three hebrew characters of our choosing on our arms. I had somehow forgotten that we both had these until he stretched his arm to display them day before yesterday while I was seated on his lap at a gay club here in the Theatre District.

One time Rob and I saw Har Mar Superstar at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell, and when someone called the cops because he had whipped out his penis onstage, he chose, rather than to run away, to retreat to his dressing room and change into jeans and a hoodie from his former flamboyant costume. This totally worked, Clark Kent style, until he walked past Rob and I and in my drunken stupor I yelled, "Sean! There you are, what the fuck." He donned his sunglasses, pointed a stern finger at the two of us, and paused briefly before he said, "I was warned you two were trouble."

When Har Mar Superstar tells you that you're trouble, you probably are. Not that we need to be told that; we're pretty clear about ourselves in this regard.

We are trouble, and to prove it we each bear two circular scars on the underside of our forearms from the business end of the same cigarette, this being the result of a [very] drunken game we played once at a weekly event we used to call Pub Night. Game probably isn't the right word for an activity that renders you permanently scarred, but people have done worse. And plus: we do what we want, as we are so fond of saying.

And Jesus Christ we do! We do exactly what we want, all the time, especially when we're together. 

"That guy's ass is so hot. Grab it." Rob whispered this into my ear last Friday night, again while I was seated on his lap. I looked, saw that it was indeed a very fine ass, and then reached over to grab myself a handful. When a young twenty-something twink turned to me astonished, I just told him that I couldn't help myself. That it wasn't my fault he had a nice ass. 

Rob and I were instant friends. Back in Miami, ten years ago now, we worked together; made coffee together in bright green aprons and made friends of our coworkers and customers. We wore all black and hated tourists. Wed drank beers by our pools and rode bikes and drove shitty cars all over South Beach. We snuck flasks into clubs. We ate bagels and called each other in the morning to wake each other up for work. We puked on our birthdays. We fought.

Only a couple of times, mind you, but we loved each other so much that the couple of times that we have fought, it has been so vehement and vociferous and divisive that all of our mutual friends had to get together to make us work it out. I forget now what we fought about.

One Pub Night Rob and I invented a game called Pitcher Chug. It's pretty simple, you just buy two pitchers of beer and race to see who can drink it the fastest while everyone else chants "PIT-CHER-CHUG! PIT-CHER-CHUG!" over and over. I was already drunk by the time we started playing, but if I remember correctly I won once and lost once that night. Later on I found out there are no real winners of Pitcher Chug.

Rob and I spent almost every day together for over two years. We scheduled our shifts together and we hung out every night. We cooked dinners and bought burgers and ordered sushi and drank pitchers and pitchers and pitchers of beer. We were inseparable, and I can't separate him from my memories of Miami, and last Friday was his last night in town, and we found ourselves drunk and sharing a seat at a midtown club, waxing nostalgic.

"Haven't you ever just fallen in love with someone as soon as you met them? I mean, you have, right? Because I knew you were for me as soon as I saw you, and you're my Miranda. You're mine. And I miss you, and all those days when we were drunk and broke and laughing all the time. And every time I see you I have to leave again, and it's not fair. It's just not fair."

I held his face in my hands and told him he was my perfect friend, and I told him he was gonna make me cry if he continued. What I didn't tell him was that I had already balled my eyes out earlier that day, and that I do that every time he's about to leave again, and this, this goddamn it, if love feels like this then I've already had enough because I've already been so many places that my whole life feels like I'm always saying goodbye.

Now Rob travels for a living, so when we were finally too drunk to stand much longer we caught a cab back to his hotel. We took the slight elevator to the 39th floor, into his room, and stripped down to our skivvies and ate take-out in bed. 

Back in Miami my back door was always unlocked, and Rob would come over in the morning and park his bike in my kitchen. He'd find me sleeping on my couch, and wake me with a bag of doughnuts and tall cups of coffee. Then during the day we'd go to work together. At night I would drape his slight frame about my shoulders and carry him home, when necessary, then cut through the parking lot of the convention center back to my own apartment to fall asleep on my couch.

The morning I left Miami we went to a very early morning breakfast, and right before I made the long drive to Fort Lauderdale to catch my flight to Seattle I dropped him off in front of his building, gave him my M bracelet to remember me by, and wrapped my arms around his neck.

"Don't say goddbye," he told me, "We'll see each other later. We'll just see each other later."

I'll spare you the retelling of our parting Saturday morning on a SoHo streetcorner, but I will tell you that in this, the meantime, I will miss his face like a heartbeat.

This is what it feels like to fall in love. 
--M

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