He spent his last night with me. I wanted him to stay but he didn’t know - something, or he didn’t want to say it, or he felt he didn’t have the right, I don’t know, I wanted him to stay, he didn’t, but he spent the night with me before we separated on the corner of A and he walked one way and I walked another.
He told me to enjoy the city alone. I was spending too much time by myself but having trouble with it, with being alone. I couldn’t be around other people for long, but I couldn’t handle being by myself either. He said most things in the city come in details too small for the passing eye to notice, and that these things carry the secrets of our universe. I taught him how to use his cameras and develop his films in my darkroom. I taught him how to clean up after himself, because he never did, not in the room. But he was tidy. It helps to be neat. For the mind.
Generosity means a lot to me. It comes back, it’s a circle. I like to give. To the people I love, and to strangers. I don’t like it when people hold on to what they have. Even if they have a lot of it, even if they have little, they should share, and give. He was always giving, and I liked that. He brought coffee, and drinks, and paint for the house, for the other roommates. Always sharing the wine, the weed, everything he had. We didn’t have to worry. If people wanted drugs they were there. Someone ended up paying for it. A lot of the times it was him.
I remember reading together from a collection by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. He was carrying it around the house, poems written during the poet's imprisonment. We were on the stairwell, and then we moved to the bathroom, sitting in the bath, without the water on, with our legs draped over the side, shoulder to shoulder. He had a bottle of southern comfort. I had half an eight ball.
One morning, some days before he left, he came over while I was still asleep. I used to leave a key under the doormat for some of our friends. He must have opened the door quietly, taken care not to make noise, noticing I was asleep. I did wake up, I remember hearing shuffling around in the other room. By the time I noticed the door to my bedroom was open and he was standing there in the harsh glare of the corridor light. I can’t remember if he was drunk, if he had this stupid look on his face because he was happy to see me or because he was stoned or something.
He crawled into bed with me. It was the only time we ever made love. He took his time, made sure I could come. I slept against his body. It mattered. He didn’t turn away when we were done. I needed that. His warmth made me feel less alone. Less scared. I had just dropped out, it was a rough time, it was winter, it was cold. I was beginning to realize I hadn’t made any plans for myself.
In the morning I woke up and found him in the other room sitting naked on a chair. He was wrapped in a blanket. I looked at him, we smiled at each other, I felt like were children again. I brought out some lights, just a three point set up, with a stool under the spotlight, in the center of the room. Under the lights, when he smiled, I felt like I could see incision marks on his neck, when his cheeks would draw back, I could see his molars, scarred somehow. His eyes were lit up under the draping beam. They were thick brown, like the eyes of a deer.
I asked him to remove the blanket. He walked over to the stool and sat down. He had a coffee mug in his hands, and he drank from it, taking his sips, smiling. I asked him if he wanted to leave me something. He asked me how I knew he was leaving. He said he didn’t want that. He hadn’t wanted me to know.
I started crying. I don’t know why, I can’t say. Especially now, when he’s not sitting in front of me, crouching, aligning his bones, snapping his jaw in place. He watched me cry for a while, without consoling me. I wiped my face. It was fine.
Some are seasonal. It’s no way to live your life.
I took the first photograph. The second. The third.
The third is haunting. His eyes are looking away from the camera. After he left I had a hard time looking at two and three. Four and five are beautiful. They’re warm. He looks warm. He’s looking right at you. You see the person he wants you to see. We don’t always get that chance. The next six photographs are sad. He’s up, moving around. He had an itch on his stomach, and when he lifted his arm it looked like he was dancing.
Passion keeps me in place. I don’t have to move, or run away, or make things happen to feel alive. I’m happy where I am. We ate breakfast. He didn’t mention the book he was writing. I’m sure it was stored there, safe and sound, looping in his head. We boiled fava beans, crushed with olive oil, diced tomatoes and onions and garlic. A pinch of parsley, and coriander. Thyme, oil and bread. I told him to be safe, and he left. The photographs were my goodbye.