(Not A Love) Note To My (Almost) (Boy)friend


When we were little, we both wrote films in our heads, imagined bits of our lives in movies. I wonder if that’s weird, or if everyone does it sometimes. I wonder if cinema is such a big part of modern lives that we all, in a way, exist within our own cinema. And lately, I’ve found myself thinking in scenes again.

Today, we go to Chili’s for lunch (you have a gift card from DJing at the Halloween dance last night). We order Cajun pasta, yours with shrimp and mine with chicken. You put a piece of shrimp on my plate and pressure me to eat it. “Look, we’ll do it together at the same time. I’ll count to three.” You count, but I chicken out. Something to do with the texture. And my deceased pet fish, Mercutio.

You stretch your legs under the table and leave them pressed against mine. This is the last time we’ll be alone together before you fly to London for a whole month to play music.

We’re at the climax of this screenplay, where things could go either way for both of us. The same me may not be here when you return. The same you may not return.

After lunch, we get into your car, and you notice all the dust that’s gathered, suddenly visible in the autumn midday light. You pull a package of cleaning wipes from the glove box and attack the dust. I watch you, the graceful stretch of your fingers, the way you smile when you concentrate. The bump on your once-broken nose.

The only time I’ve seen you frown for more than a minute was a few months ago, when I told you about the “r-word.” About my ex. When it was so new, I couldn’t say it; I had to spell the word, whispering. You became quiet for the rest of dinner. When we went outside, you gave me a long hug. Just one in a sequence of many to come.

In the car ride home, we talk about this impending November. Maybe I’ll find a writing job and a new, less-fractured life. Maybe you’ll get your big break in London.

When we pull up to my house, it’s time to walk to my door. We wrap around each other again.

“You give the best hugs,” you say.

“Only to you.”

This time, I feel my eyes moisten. I don’t want you to see. But at the same time, I do. When we let go, the screen begins its fade into the next scene, and melancholy transition music plays, soft beneath the sound of cars passing.

Have you noticed how in our early twenties, every day feels like a snapshot from a low-budget indie film? We can’t see the whole spliced-together version yet. We live for the word “someday.”

After I get inside, I try not to cry. I write this little description of today. Or abstract-almost-love note. Or confession. Whatever it is.

And I don’t know if you’ll ever see it.