1. You brought me to: to the burger joint full of drag queens, the beach house with the stray cats and insecure boys, and the deli your mother-in-law worked at. Our original connection was through the antics of a mutual friend long gone in New York. The last time you called me you said, “Would anyone in your house like a knife demonstration?” I asked what you were talking about, and you said you had a new job as a knife seller. You wanted me to ask my parents if they would be interested in seeing your knives. “I’ll see what I can do,” I said, and hung up.
2. You were the tattooed, dirty boy standing outside the soundstage near the hot dog stand. When a father asked you about the event, you said that it was going to be a “fun, clean event” and drugs would not be tolerated. He left and you walked behind a Volvo to do a line. Later that night (although I only heard about this secondhand) you punched your hand through a windshield and went to the hospital. The woman that brought you to the hosptial was your best friend, and you swore that you would be lifelong friends. Two weeks later you two got in a fight and, and you went to live in the Bay Area. Last I heard, you went to jail for a year for pushing a man out a six story window.
3. You sat at the breakfast nook in the spaceship-themed house, waiting. My mom asked you what sorts of things you wrote. “Well, I don’t know quite how to explain it… It’s basically exactly like… hmm… Shakespeare.” My parents kicked each other under the table and asked you about your other art: the paintings hanging in the other room. You compulsively adjusted your bug eyeglasses in thought. “My art seeks to connect all people, through what I believe fundamentally connects all people: mammalian birth,” you told us. “That’s wonderful,” I said naturally, with no trace of irony. You were a sweet, otherkin grandma allowing us to live in your San Francisco loft themed like a spaceship. My parents looked at me wide-eyed. When I was getting ready for bed, you came in to my room and told me that night you saw something special in me. I was scared you’d try pull a Harold and Maude seduction on me. I sighed when you said that I had a true calling in life to spread your idea of mammalian birth. You walked back into your bedroom, forever wide-eyed.
4. You are famous, and people can perceive you with grotesquely perfect proportions. You respond to this by laughing, smiling, and remembering names the first time you hear them. You found the necklace I left under the Virgin Mary statue, did the detective work to call and thank me. You refuse to become numb to all that you have. I am scared someone will try to use you and it won’t be your fault. You don’t want to say no, to anyone, but sometimes you feel this intense bout of refusal coming up your spine; you shove it back down and put on your mask. The fear that one step the wrong way, one trick, one lazy night, and all the gold will disappear keeps you awake. Your respect grows with your hard work.
Photographs from my Instagram