The text I sent
was supposed to be funny.
“Dude,” I said,
“do you remember
the Primitive Radio Gods and
‘Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand?’”
It was just supposed to be
a funtime Friday night
sort of thing.
What I got back
rather than laughs
was real life;
“I’m so broken, man,” my friend said,
“I’ve made so many mistakes, man;
I wake up every morning in a fog,
and I wish I could stop drinking, man,
but I can’t,
and I’m so sorry, man,
I’m sorry to dump this on you,
I’m so sorry for ruining my marriage,
I’m so sorry for everything.
And I’m so fat, man,
and I never work out, anymore.
Do you remember in high school
when we ran that back-road 15-miler?
Remember that on that summer day?
It was a heat wave, man,
and we ran it anyway.
And you said it was a vision quest, man.
Do you remember?
I really think it was, too.
I really think it was a vision quest.
Man, those were the days.
Those were the days.
I haven’t felt like that
in so long, man.
In so long.
I’m so lost from myself;
I’m just so lost, man.
I can’t even remember who I am.”
This is life.
This is the ones I love.
This is living in the shadow of atrophy.
It is, as it’s always been, and I just think
about my hurting friend
who I seem to remember better
than he remembers himself,
and I think of all those scattered souls out there,
all those tatterdemalion spirits;
I think of all the human beings
chasing the wind of their own selves.
And it bothers me.
I despise problems without clear solutions.
I’m the sort of person to grab the flag and say,
“Take the hill, boys!”
So that’s what I do, tonight.
“Let’s run a marathon, man,” I say.
“Let’s sign up
for next year
and that way you’ll have something
to hold on to,
because if you don’t get your
sad, fat ass in shape
I’ll mercilessly mock you;
I mean that, man,
because I love you, brother;
I’ll stand by your side to the end
even if we are two thousand miles apart;
so don’t give up on yourself, brother,
because I will not give up on you,
I will never give up on you.”
“Yea, man,” he says.
Let’s run that marathon, man.”
And he means it now, but he’s drunk,
and I fear tomorrow he’ll forget,
and so will I, and
we’ll return to our illusions
pretending it’s all okay
in the silences of our own mortality;
and that’s not to blame anyone
for mortality is by its nature
silent and alone,
and try as we might to change that fact
it is what it is and it’s been long before we were
and will be long after we aren’t.
There’s nothing else to say
besides, “I’ll stand by your side
to the end, brother.”
when tomorrow mornings
have a way of rearranging our devotions.
It was supposed to be a funtime text.
Just a funtime Friday night sort of thing.