January 4, 2005
The girls were sitting and joking after dinner, and it was the
kind of joking that made the boy feel like he was ready for the
world, because it didn't feel
like anything he couldn't handle. They happened to be girls, and they happened
to be older, and they happened to each be at least a little beautiful when they
spoke. But there was the same rise and fall to their
conversation that showed they didn't know what was
They were his cousin's friends, visiting from college.
They were interesting to listen to and to think about college
how it would be for him. He didn't
know if he was looking forward to it or not. It seemed like it could be a nice
bright room the way his aunt's house felt with everybody gathered around. But
he didn't have anything against the night outside either. He especially didn't
have anything against it when he had been working out there, painting his aunt's
fence, and the night seemed like the best thing to come after the afternoon.
The thing that surprised him though was that the joking was
like the kind of stuff that he and his friend Tom used to do.
He thought people
would be on to new things in college. He didn't know what that would be,
but he felt like there had to be something, because of the way
that things could
feel really lasting when they weren't joking. But he was beginning to see
that other people were not always necesary for that. There was
a lot that he could
do on his own, and people and bright rooms might be a good thing to have
The girls had ordered Chinese food, and they were cracking
open the fortune cookies. One of them laughed and said, "Do you know the game with adding 'in bed'
to your fortune?"
They all laughed and the boy felt his face burn. This was the thing he
couldn't handle, talking about that thing like it was some kind of joke.
understand it, he figured. They didn't understand and he used to think
that it was because,
like him, they hadn't experienced it. They'll quit their joking once
they see what it's like, he thought. They won't feel like
they have anything
prove. And they will see what a serious thing it is. But many of those
who did that joking had experienced it, and that could only mean
that they thought
they were over it.
"You will find happiness where you least expect it... in
Maybe they really were over it. Maybe they had experienced
it and now that was where they were. But they were girls, they
were the people that he
to experience it with, and he didn't know how he was supposed to experience
it with someone who could ever feel like they were over it.
They were supposed
be there in the bed together, and they weren't really being there together
unless they were under it, unless they were admitting what a desperate
thing it was.
It didn't seem like you could look at the thing right if you were looking
down on it from up above. He didn't think he could be in a bed with someone
could look at it like that.
"There will be a reunion with an old friend... in bed."
He wished he could tell them that they didn't need to joke
about it, that they already had everything they needed for a
or for any of it. He knew
that he already had everything he needed, but it was exactly that kind of joking
made him wonder if he needed something more, something that could come
lightly around people, smiling about that thing.
It didn't matter so much
when it was
boys talking like that, because that could add to the dream of the girl,
but he felt out of luck when it was girls talking like that, because that
there was in the world. He wished that he could tell them that it wasn't
anything bad being under it, that it could be a perfectly fine place to
be. They just
had to give it a chance and trust that being under it did not have to
mean being far from it. He wanted to be somewhere just under
it, where he wasn't
from it because everybody was admitting of how under it they were.
"The opportunity to correct a past wrong shall present
That was where he could be himself about it and wouldn't have
to worry about being too serious. The thing was serious,
and he was sure that
it did not have to do with whether he had experienced it or not. He was sure
was true for them too. They were going to come back around to that seriousness
eventually, because a bed was not going to be a place where only one
preson was serious.
That much he was sure of. He had always thought of
a bed as the
one place where he wouldn't need to joke around, where he would
finally find something lasting, somewhere other than by himself.
were going to
that, then he might have to find something else.
But even as they laughed, the girls each had a beauty that
could go with a bed, and the boy knew that he was always going
to be under it. He was
to be under it because he was always going to be waiting for the yes
or no. If it was a yes, then he didn't know why they were joking, and
he didn't know why they were bringing it up in the first place.
was a feeling of being squeezed on both ends. And he trembled
because he could
why it was that boys tried to be over this thing, through the way they
and more. He could understand why
they talked like it was something to be on top of. Somebody had
to be on top
of it if everybody
else was just going to joke around.
The boy stood up and told his cousin that he had to go home.
He said goodbye and left.
Out in the night he felt better. It was dark but he felt better about
all the things he felt when he was under the night sky. There
he didn't feel under at all when he was out there. There was something
he didn't feel under or over but right where he should be, and
it was only
he was walking past the houses of his town by himself that he felt
When he was out there, it seemed like there was a way to
or over and
inside them as well, inside the bright rooms, and inside them with
a girl with a bright face, and to have the thing go as brightly
There was a way to do it, but he was going to have to do a
lot of walking past the houses at night before he could bring some
that inside with him,
past the houses of his own town and of cities as well. He didn't
think he could be inside without acknowledging the darkness outside
as well, and he couldn't
do that until he got to know the darkness through and through.
The bright rooms were supposed to be a break from something,
and he first
had to learn what that
was. A bright room with a girl in it was even more so, and
as for a room with a girl and a bed in it, he was going to have
for miles and miles to learn
it, farther than he'd had to walk for anything before, and
enough that he did not think he would ever be able to make
a joke about
it his whole life.
goodbye to spam!