(originally published on April 4, 2011)
I saw it on Craigslist as I was looking for accommodation for my nine-month stay in the U.S. Your ad said “One of a kind place to live,” and the way you wrote it was different from every other boring “1-BR, 1-BA” piece of crap I had read in weeks. You were the only male I contacted, because
[say it with me]
…boys are trouble.
Your first written words to me were: “I loved the energy in your e-mail. You sound like the perfect match for this house.”
I was the perfect match for your house, for your life, and for you. Your entire personality was in that ad, probably without you even realizing it, and I responded from across the ocean.
When the location did not work for me, it felt odd. Because, you see, that was my house. I saw the photos online, and I knew that it was where I was supposed to be. You gave me your phone number and we met nonetheless.
I did visit your house in the end. Twice.
The first time we had to go fetch your riding shades. You wanted “a quiet night with me” to calm you down after a killer week at work, but we ended up riding, drinking, meeting your friends, then riding and drinking again. And other things, too.
You were a train wreck when I met you, yet you managed to maintain a sanctuary of your house. It was at the very edge of town, warm, comforting, soothing. Perhaps it was the woodwork, or the lighting, or… simply you. Because you are a home maker. And a home seeker. And because that is what you do for a living: you collect wrecks and turn them into something beautiful. As far as I remember, you do the same with people: collect wrecks and try to repair them. Only I told you some people were beyond repair.
I walked into that house and the rest of my life evaporated. I had no job, no geographical roots, no desires. My universe collapsed, Aleph-like, into a single location. My pregnancy phobia gave way to nesting visions of quiet nights with you. My Faustian ethos was humbled by a lowly kind of inner peace. Home.
You had a smoke with your roommate on the porch. We watched a spider mercilessly catch a moth in its web on your mailbox, and wrap it up into a fuzzy cocoon, still alive. Your house number was my birthday. Our birthdays were… are... a week apart.
The second time was our last conversation. I showed up at your door after being afraid for your life for a month. Because in your last phone call you said you had an MRI scheduled in the morning, and named two possible outcomes, one more devastating than the other.
I waited for you to come downstairs, and looked around. Your house was more beautiful than I had remembered, even if it was messier and sillier: you had stuck a pool table between the TV and the couch, and your Harley was tucked in for the winter under the staircase. That fucking Springer Softail.
But you took the conversation outside, on the porch again. It was the first snowfall of the year, very light and fairy dust-like, almost like that spider's web had dissipated into powder and was scattered all over town. You looked healthier, calmer. You grew a longer beard, but your eyes were still piercingly green, and they never blinked. Your health was fine and you were dating. You had your shit together.
I had had visions of you collapsing in the street, or lying down in a gutter after drinking and riding. I saw your kids without a father. And you never told me, never responded. That is one sick, pathological way of gaining and retaining the upper hand. In what? I didn't realize it was a power struggle between us.
Would it be preposterous if I said you were scared to see me? You had your guard up so bad, you might as well have been wearing a TSA scanning tube around you. I never raised my voice, or made a single aggressive gesture, but you were defensive, and kept repeating “I don’t know what to say. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say.” And then you talked. You said “I freaked out. It was fucked up from the start. It never should have happened.”
I didn’t say it back then, because you would not have listened, but I am going to say it now: there was no way in hell for us not to happen. There is no parallel universe in which you and I would not have sniffed each other out. I picked up your vibe from an ocean away, and would do what I did a million times over, no questions asked.
I was the perfect match for your house. And if my witch’s intuition serves me right, we are not done in this lifetime yet.