like someone told you a story, maybe the wrong story, palm trees where there should be pine. and now you doubt everything.

on friday night, i met j. who i have maintained a loose, confessional friendship with the past few years. we dated casually in new york and it spun itself easily into what it is now, a few emails a year but no silver details of our day to day life. not: did we work out? what did you eat? but more: i am growing old and here are my regrets. i probably should have kept it at that considering the shabby emotional state that i am in.

as i was waiting at the restaurant, i realized it had been so long that i didn’t know if i would recognize him. it is SF, and there were mobs of skinny white men with beards and i found myself searching. he was very late and i wondered vaguely if he would show up at all. i leaned against a wall to watch a baseball game. i turned around, speckled green eyes. i hugged him just a little too long.

he was different, much in the same way ishmael changed when he left the law (and returned to it recently), more engaged, less depressed, the blood coming back to his face. he looked good. he runs, bikes, swims and skis. at some point i noticed how tight his shirt was around his biceps and i excused myself to go to the restroom. there, i looked at myself in the mirror and wondered why i hadn’t put on more make up or worn a more provocative top. this is to say, on the outset, my intention was good.

he talked about his mother, app, girlfriend, brothers and medication. i drank more than i ate. i told him, surprisingly, everything. the incredible stress of my life in los angeles. i asked him if he was happy and he said, no, no. and this made me sad.

i expected him to go home after dinner, possibly to meet his gf. later, my friend would point out that it was suspect that he didnt bring her to the dinner. i should have figured that out but i dont know, is there another category of friendship for people who dated but didn’t have a great fall out and still respect and care about one another a lot? must be a rare species that doesn’t live long.

at his suggestion, we went for a drink at a bar across the street. we sat deep in the back corner and talked about our life and failures, weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties. i told him that i have a penchant for scotch and strippers. i drank too much and he astounded me by offering to take me to a strip club. we held hands running across the street into a cab. when we got to the club, i started drinking double whiskeys, i was so tired of going to sleep with my mind in the same spot and then waking up with my mind in the same spot; like no sleep at all–i just wanted to black out.

then it was 2 in the morning and everything was closing because it’s california, your new life remember sirin? but there i was kissing him on broadway, a street in every city. i hadn’t touched a body like that in so long. just a statue of rippling muscle. sometimes, by his emails, i think j. loves me in the same way d. did…as an ideation, as a confessional medium. but that he, like d., will find himself unable to deal with me on a day to day; stripped of my perceptive capacity and just plainly female. when we got back to his place, j. kissed me passionately and held me tenderly. he was so open, and so drunk but refused to take off his pants.

in the morning, when i woke up, i knew exactly where i was. he even smelled the same, squeaky clean. like hay, snow and deciduous trees. panic seeped into me and i didn’t know what to do; to stay, to leave. observing the picture of him and his gf on his fridge through my bloodshot eyes, i thought two things: fuck and no. i got up and walked quickly to the bathroom. on the sink was a neat map of her toothbrush, facial wash and hair tie; nothing touching. i thought, he must still have a maid or an OCD complex i somehow overlooked. i used her hair tie and washed my face. i put it back exactly where it was, and took a moment to tell it sorry out loud. and i am. she is plain, and young, and wants him too much and it’s not going to work out, is it. then i went back to bed, put my hands on his body and asked him if he had a condom.

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