A lot of aspects of my life changed or began to change in early 2005. I left my clinic job, where I shared an office the size of my current office’s closet, to start grad school and a job I loved from the first day. I was beginning to come to terms with the end of a relationship that destroyed me, and to understand that being alone might be the state of things for a long time. I was working too much and sleeping too little – but that had been the case for a while. I felt – then as now – that my life was unfolding with possibility.
I met Carl sometime in late 2004 – I don’t know exactly when, and you’ll forgive me for that, as that was a time when I was working for up to six weeks with no time off, when I was sleeping little and eating less, when – as now – life was moving at a dizzying pace, and all I wanted was time to sit down and be still, just for a bit. I remember seeing him at the laundromat and crushing a little on him for his big book and long hair and stack of black t-shirts. We talked about The Dark Tower across the counter at the coffeeshop where I worked, or on the back patio while he smoked and I swept.
A few days before my 25th birthday, I was at the Monkey with friends, having closed the coffeeshop with Bailey’s in our coffee, followed by drinks at Jupiter. Carl was there with a friend, and we got to talking, and I mentioned my 25×25 list. He asked first about a pencilled-in item related to the devastating break-up, then asked about #12: have a memorable first kiss (or just a memorable kiss, period).
“Have you had a memorable first kiss?”
“Could I be your memorable first kiss?”
Two days later, he took me out on the eve of my birthday. We had dinner at Crane Alley, went back to my house, and sat in the Papasan chair and talked and laughed until we were both motion sick. My best first date ever.
There were other dates after that, but we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be a thing, and instead settled into a close and intimate friendship that has remained close and intimate for years, even though we’ve gone long periods without speaking or seeing each other. He’s been a non-negotiable in my life through a lot of stuff, and I’m tremendously thankful for that. I’ve never been able to really explain our friendship, nor who we are or have been to each other, except that when we’re together, it is as he wrote years ago, that “We have a world that runs parallel to the regular existence, one we have to jump just a little to the side to inhabit. I can always tell that that’s true because no one ever quite shares laughter with us.”
Happy birthday, love. One of these years maybe there will be a better picture of us than these.
Essential friend data:
Met: Aroma? Probably?
Years known: 7-8