Do you remember when we walked from your house to the diner? It was the first time I ever “went with the flow.” We had a reading, and it went well, well enough to make you want to take a walk with me. I was wearing a big necklace, it weighed on my neck, and my stomach kind of hurt, the way it always sort of hurt back then, a consistent bother, always upset, uneasy. We walked and I wasn’t wearing the right shoes either, and you were, so you were happy. You chain-smoked and pointed out landmarks. I got to see the Checkers parking lot where you passed out and hit a cop, prompting your arrest. I got to see the park you played basketball, where you made friends with strangers, kids, adults, anyone who wanted to play HORSE. I saw where you had meetings on Monday nights, I saw where the city puts up Christmas decorations during holiday time and you kissed a girl by the fake presents and then never talked to her again because she was a bitch. I saw the pet store where the red-eyed mice climbed over each other in over-crowded cages trying to get our attention, or just moving because it felt good to move. You showed me these places and I listened, let you lead. That was what you wanted.
Now I drink coffee and orange juice and substitute teach at the college. I am writing and these kids who are not mine are working on essays that are due today that they haven’t finished, haven’t even started, some of them. I sit in a black leather chair and watch them work and mostly think about how different the holidays will be this year. It is good that we are apart and don't talk anymore. It is good that to each other, we are gone. One of them just rolled down the shade and it got dark all of a sudden, but the sun is strong, even for November, as it always is in LA, and it made everyone get quiet. Only two girls are talking, and it is in such a low whisper that it relaxes me, everyone it seems, and so I will let it be.