On Borders

Look, I’ve known him for years. We are the best of friends. But, he doesn’t let me into his room. I’ve never been in his car. He sends me the best emails. But we rarely talk. I mean, offline.

I don’t know why he is this way. But through all my breakups, he was there for me. He wasn’t a shoulder to cry on. But his words were always touching. He is a poet and a dreamer in words. Like a fish swimming in language. But flopping around in the dry air of life. We met on the bus.

We were reading the same book. A memoir about Rachel Corrie. On a Powell’s bookmark he wrote his email. Getting off at his stop he handed it to me. No eye contact. Just the bookmark. But he knew I had seen him reading. Two people reading the same book on the bus always see each other.

The first contact was cold. We talked about death. Then shared thoughts about freedom and politics. About America’s role in the world. I’ve been a fan of Bill O’Reilly for ten years. He was a fan of Noam Chomsky. We disagreed in the best ways. Our words were full of respect. But his roommates didn’t understand his quiet nature. His long walks in Forest Park led to him being called John Muir. A title of honor for him.

When my roommate moved away to Texas. His roommates were having parties every night. It was simple. He moved in with me. I never even posted an ad.

He has had girlfriends. In fast he has one now. She lives in Washougal. They see each other on the weekends. And she isn’t what you would imagine. It is like he opened his heart and world to one person. And it was her. I’ve seen them together, and he is normal. He can be in a group of people, and feel safe with her. She is a translator. Taking him the world, and him to the world. You know Einstein was a terrible misogynist.

A few times a month we will watch a movie together. Sometimes we go down by the river and walk. But still words are rare. I’ll see him in the corner of my eye. Then he will point to a cloud. Down to a boat in the water. Or an interesting person passing. His eyes say it all.

He has his borders. They are firm and should be respected. They may limit his life in the world. But they don’t hold him back from living. And he is happy within his bounds. And isn’t this what counts. You can try to drag him out. His roommates tried and failed. I’ve seen others try and fail. The harder you pull the more he will dig in deeper.

I think we get along because I’ve never tried. He has always been a mystery to me. I can’t imagine him any other way.

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