I am dressed for an evening on the beach, a cozy new Marc Jacobs sweater in a sober oatmeal with jeans, unlike the slinky, sleeveless crowd filling the banquet hall homecoming and toasting the birth of our nation’s independence before the fireworks. When you approach, the world is no longer a static neutral television set. I am shy confidence in my own skin, upbeat and open to every moment.
You are drunk, I am not. You hold me close and guide me through the party introducing me to the crowd that loves you. We lock knees and crab walk through the teetering hallway to an empty banquet room. You point out the window to show me a skylit patio over the lake, modern and bright, the city’s newest construction. You are proudly embarrassed. We both want each other’s approval. You long for me to be proud of the man you have turned out to be. To love you with the same eyes that you love the city we both call home. But, I long for you to love me despite my reasons for leaving. I want you to love me as I am. I left, you stayed, we are only to be in this dream.
On a long white table sits a pile of purple-foil wrapped treats, you take one, unwrap it and pop it in your mouth. It’s salmon-flavored and just as disgusting as it sounds. You take two more and we laugh at the way people need to make strange things with food for the sake of feeling cultured. It’s just the way people are. The fancy ones are always a little fishy, you say. I worry about my fishy places as we walk on, hip to hip.
If I could get away for a moment, I could consider this situation. Think of all the ways I have held you at arm’s length. When I realize that this is my fishy place. The need to leave, to be alone, in order to consider the moments after they happen, unable to see them for what they are while they are happening.
I wake up to sorrow creeping into my heart like a midnight burglar and I have nowhere to hide from this void of considerable depth, this feeling of avoided life robbing me of joy after this visit home in a dream room with you.