“Bro. Come down to Florida,” I told the Saint. “I got a way for you to make some money.”
Weeks later Saint James arrived in the Sunshine State. It wasn’t hard to pick up where we left off. Save for a brief reunion in Texas, he and I had not seen each other since leaving Beijing.
Being his roommate in China was a tumultuous experience. Often I wanted to punch him in the face for his cold brashness. Saint James does what he wants to do, and he says whatever the hell he feels like. This unwavering devotion is irritating, but I can’t help but respect the hell out of him.
A writer’s retreat. That’s what I called our reunion.
Really though, I just needed to get the Saint back in my life. It’s sad we spend so much of our lives around people we don’t like. Whether that’s coworkers, friends, or god forbid, our spouses, not enough time is spent with the people we want to be with. Some of this is social or financial obligation, all necessary evils, but they have a harsh ripple effect.
That’s what’s so odd about life, is that the good things never seem to stick around as long as the bad things.
Not that Saint James is always a peach.
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A few weeks back we went to a bar. He got drunk and started complaining I wouldn’t go ask women to dance.
“I’m seeing someone, bro,” I told him.
“Yeah, but I hate watching you sit back with this relaxed face while I’m out here stressing about women.”
I didn’t know what to say to the guy. It was tough seeing him agonize over the pressure of talking/dancing with women. I just want the best for him and sometimes it feels like he doesn’t believe me when those words come out of my mouth.
That brings me to a few weeks prior to that event, a night of clubbing that afterwards saw us nearly come to blows.
He punctuated that evening by dancing with a Colombian with curly hair while I meekly danced with her sister and took one for the team.
After the four of us left the club, the girls wanted to talk more now that our voices were audible. My Spanish being much better than Saint James’, I quickly became the center of attention.
The chicks left, and then our Uber arrived. Right away, the Saint was unhappy.
“Hey, Quentin! Next time talk to your girl. Don’t be trying to steal mine!” he yelled.
Part of me thought he might start punching me in the back of the head, his blood alcohol level enough to spur violence.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I told him.
Considering he snagged the IG of the girl, his gripe felt forced, like he was transposing his frustrations onto me.
No more words were spoken until the Uber dropped us off at the apartment.
After getting out of the car, Saint James was up to the same hijinks.
This time, he stuck his hand right in my chest and pushed.
“Get the fuck away from me!” he yelled. “I don’t even want to look at you right now.”
“Dude, what the fuck is your problem?”
He walked away to finish his cigarette and I meandered upstairs. Especially in Beijing, we always subtly competed for women, but this was the first time things had escalated to this magnitude.
I climbed into bed that night, in many ways fearful my drunk friend would unleash more fury.
The next morning was Christmas Day. I wrote him a quick email telling my side of the events, then walked into the empty streets of Bogota.
I just kept walking, part of me hoping some dude would just come and shove a gun in my face. This would end all the despair that circulated around my brain.
It’s hard to be a man and do the right thing. What’s most difficult to grasp is that many times there is no clear-cut answer to a situation.
It’s not like being drunk and having to decide whether to drive or not. Being a man often means making decisions that are painful and will hurt other people who don’t deserve to feel agony.
This is a responsibility I don’t want to bear. When I was younger things seemed to be easier. There weren’t these overwhelming decisions that needed to be made.
But again, life doesn’t wait until you’re ready to hand over responsibility.
When I returned from my walk, Saint James was in the living room, ready to embrace me with a big hug.
“Sorry about everything,” I told him.
“Me too, man,” he said.
Just like that we were good.
“But you did try to steal my girl,” he then joked.
“Fuck you. We were just talking,” I said, inciting an hour-long discussion about events that had no real impact on the future.
That’s what I’ll miss most when the Saint heads back to Los Angeles. We have a tendency to fall into these random conversations that drag on forever.
He sees things systematically and is consequently a heartless bastard.
I interpret through human emotion, typically able to see why a person would do something that many others will later lambast.
The crazy thing about these talks is that often they start to get really good just as I’m about to walk out the door. It’s as if impending departures bring about an urgency from the subconscious to make things special.
A few weeks from now, the Saint will leave. It’ll have been a long three months. What started out in Florida as a happy reunion with an eye toward the future has turned into a painful countdown.
I don’t know how I’ll feel when he’s gone, but it won’t feel good.
What’s weird about relationships is that they feel like all-or-nothing ventures. Like, either a woman is solely looking for a weekend fling, or she’s putting on the pressure for marriage.
There is no middle ground. We can’t just share the space in time we currently occupy.
I’m not an idiot: I get it. Women have biological clocks and as the famous line goes, “shit or get off the pot.”
For many women, these fleeting moments without labels don’t do them any good. I wouldn’t want my hypothetical daughter to date a guy who has no idea the direction his life is headed. Ideally, she is dating a college grad who makes $100,000 a year and drives a BMW. Anything less and I’m concerned the guy won’t be able to support her.
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At least in America, the counter to this line is that women make enough money and can support themselves. That’s true, but I’m not convinced women enjoy working. Any woman I’ve ever dated eventually laid it on heavy.
“I want you to take care of me,” were their words.
That’s the sentence that makes me want to go crawl in a hole. Take care of you? With what? I have no money. Do you really want to eat cereal for breakfast and ham sandwiches for dinner every day? Because that’s where I’m at.
I mean, my income is so low, I’m on government-subsidized healthcare. Nothing about that suggests I can take care of a woman and children.
This leads to me telling women who see me as future prospect to stop trying. Leave me alone and let me suffer in peace. If everything works out, I’ll call you in fifteen years when I have the finances worked out.
Even that’s a tall order because at 40, no woman is going to marry me for my personality. I’ll be wrinkled, the best part of me being numbers on a computer screen that show how much money sits in my bank account.
Beyond that, I may have to worry about divorce and paying a huge settlement to her and the lawyers. I understand why people get married, but if they knew the divorce rates, it would be hard to be believe they would still want in on that construct.
Yep. As you can tell, the person writing this is not a man. I’m still in boyhood stage, thankful to receive $250 checks that feel like $1,000 in the mail.
The irony to all this is that if I go back to America and begin sitting at a desk, financial security could come my way relatively quickly. But I hate sitting down. That’s why I take five walks a day. Too much energy and thought manifesting into worry that might not even be necessary.
But I’ll miss this part of my life one day when clarity has been achieved. As for now, it’s internal strife, but someone in a better headspace than me would love it.