I Was In A Bubble
And so that fateful night…
at the beginning of June in 2010, I follow him upstairs where he is photographing a few musicians in an empty apartment.
I just sit around and watch. I’m not too engaged, or too curious, or much of anything other than simply present. I am in an empty apartment where my roommate is photographing musicians. Chris takes a few pictures of me as well, and when he’s got everything we all go next door, to the apartment where one of the musicians lives.
I don’t know this when I step into his apartment, but he is my everlasting, enduring, all-consuming, and soul-stirring love. And that summer, fall, and winter he is my ruin.
And for years after he has taken up all of the room inside my heart, and I’ve never once denied it or tried to exist or believe otherwise.
They’ve built a bar in their apartment. A small bar, by the recording booth/studio that I don’t know they ever fully equipped. The bar is next to the wall of windows. We’re all smoking, James may have offered me a beer. He holds court behind the bar. He is charismatic, he is funny, he is clever and witty. He loves “Fail” videos on YouTube and focuses on sharing those with me.
He is so much fun! He hates being white. We joke that his memoir will be called “I Hate Being White.” I cleverly came up with a few forwarding lines for the book – that I’ve never been able to recall since. I know they were choice because he gave me a look I would come to love, that told me I’d just nailed it. There were a handful of other people there, but who cares? They weren’t important. We were in a bubble. Or perhaps I was in a bubble, but it was his bubble and he put me there and there I stayed.
I think he’s gone to the bathroom when I step behind the bar. I want to be nearer to him, but it is a very subconscious need, so deep, so embedded, so natural that I don’t feel nervous or coy. He remarks on his return at my confidence for stepping behind the bar. I may have made up a line about giving him a break.
We were flirting and I couldn’t stop.
I don’t remember now how the night ended. But I do remember it was a Monday night.
Because I remember waking up in the dark of my window-less room, on my hard wooden loft, on Tuesday morning (probably more accurately, afternoon) and thinking, “Fuck, I’m in love,” and putting myself back down and closing my eyes with the kind of groggy half-awake logic that I could sleep this off.
I slept the entire day. And whenever I woke up again, it was still there. I was in love with this stranger I’d met only a day ago, and spent only a few hours with.
But wasn’t he just everything?
He isn’t my type but he’s my new type. He’s four years younger than me. He is the baby I was when Iain and I broke up. He isn’t six feet tall. He doesn’t have the athletic build I favor. He is skinny, the way Patrick Dempsey was skinny in Can’t Buy Me Love. He skateboards. He’s a ginger. I’ve always joked about loving gingers, because I always found them attractive, but I’d never actually met one, let alone become enamored with one, in real life. He’s from New Jersey. I’d told myself, after Jeremy, that I wasn’t going to get involved with another guy from Jersey whose name began with J.
That rule was quickly tossed right out the window.
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Soon, we’re Facebook friends. We’re on messenger within the week. It’s nighttime. He comes downstairs. We hang out alone, together all night – cigarettes in the hallway, as he provides mind-spinning summaries on physics and the galaxy and draws diagrams of things I tried desperately to follow but which I could not possibly recount now.
I fell further.
He was light years more intelligent than anyone I’d ever met before. And he was pouring it all out on me and I was furiously incapable of grasping, or processing, and retaining it as fast as he could deliver but I don’t think that mattered very much to either of us. I like to imagine he’d just realized I was someone who would listen to him about this stuff. I imagine he’d felt similarly to me, in the way that I never know which one of my friends to unload to about all my ideas and questions about life and purpose and humanity and death and the spirit journey and the afterlife.
Years later, Jessica told me a line she got from Oprah, “People just want to be heard.”
I could listen to James for hours. And that night I did. It was all so fluid and natural and unstrained. We just connected. And it felt like a new high. I had never ever felt this before in my life. It felt like I’d known him forever. It felt like he was one of my kind. It felt like he was from my home planet, somewhere far off in the Universe, and we had found each other. And oh the wonder!
Sometimes, I would wonder – was it all in my head, was that magical feeling mine alone? Did he really ever pick up on it too?
We sat in the hall smoking, me Camel lights, him a black and mild. And he commented on it – the energy between us. He asked why it was like this. He told me that he never really got on with anyone else this way. Or maybe I said that. Or maybe neither of us moved our mouths at all. Maybe we said it with our brains, because that’s how mutual and easy our recognition of this “friendship” was.