Last night, Edu made curry. I made a point of talking to her while she cooked, because I knew she would feed me if I stood there long enough. It’s not that I’m lazy and can’t cook for myself. It’s twofold. The first is that I would rather eat a Pop-Tart or whatever (crackers and cheese, etc.) and call it a day. Edu makes me excited about food.
She knows that when I show up, it’s because it smells good. This was shrimp, dal, rice, onions, chilis, and masala. Masala is any spice blend in India- garam masala is hot spices, but Edu had already added fresh peppers- gods the fruit was beautiful. Heat tastes so much better, fresher off the vine. The difference is stunning.
That being said, I am the type person that does like the thrill ride, but I need enough fat and sugar lining my stomach before I take it on. It also helps if the dish is very, very hot to cool it down a little. In India, that means plain yogurt or raita. I like both, but I could eat plain straight out of the container.
By this point, I don’t even know who I am. Like, what the hell even are these? Carolina Reapers. F ME RUNNING WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
I don’t think I’ve ever been so high in my life, and I’ve taken caffeine and Ambien TOGETHER. My bathrobe and my SpongeBob doll talked to me all night when I was 19. The story behind it is really innocent. I didn’t know that Ambien wasn’t really sleeping medication. It doesn’t knock you out in that way. It’s an amnesiac, and you basically go into a fugue state if you’re amped up on something like caffeine. There is one Canadian in particular that will know what I’m talking about quite intimately, because we once had a hilarious conversation in the middle of the night where he stood on his head because of the same combo….. and didn’t even remember picking up the phone in the morning.
I thought of myself as still dating Meagan platonically. I would say that she didn’t know that, but she did. She knew it was a big deal when she came to visit her parents, and she pulled out all the stops. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked her for this…. She even came home from college either in the second semester or the fall of her sophomore year. She took me to Starbucks and we had our classic high school date. It was so romantic, but only in an Anne Shirley and Diana Barry sort of way. I was extraordinarily observant of the fact that Meagan was never coming back to the United States under any circumstances. High school was it.
If there’s anything about my relationship with Meagan that still burns me up after all these years, it’s that my parents are still in Houston and hers aren’t. No more dates, even platonically. All hope is not lost, though. Here’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever done for Meagan in my life.
Meagan used to be married to a woman named Deah. Deah and I had our differences, but she was fully aware of how much I loved Meagan because I told her that all the time. I am sure she still looks back and laughs over how pathetically in love I was with my memories. Because you see, when I looked at Meagan, I didn’t see the capable & successful massage therapist, wife, and mother. I saw my little girl on a high school soccer field, the whistle blown and the game stopped……. and the forward who didn’t hear the whistle and kicked Meag so hard she went down. If you want to find my smallest place, the one where I feel the most emotion, just talk about that game. I dare you. It won’t be pretty. I ran down to the field and would have been able to get to her if I hadn’t been stopped. I looked around at the crowd. Oh, shit. Now I’ve confirmed her mother’s worst fears…………………
Deah, knowing absolutely everything there is to know about this, decided to surprise Meagan for her birthday one year (I forget which). Meagan was equally enamored with me in a first love kind of way. We’ll never go back, but we can still cry about how obsessed we were in 1996. So, back to Deah.
I was very, very surprised to hear from her. She said that I should come up and spend the weekend, because she wanted to do something big for Meag. Oh, hell yes I was in. That’s my girl right there.
Because here’s what those dates our first year of college did for us. The first one was AWFUL. I was still so upset about our breakup that I couldn’t really enjoy myself. I was jealous of the women she was actually romantically interested in because I had basically picked them for her by telling her about a college group that was queer on her campus, because I was thinking about transferring up to University of New Brunswick after I was done with junior college.
But that was just the first one. After I accepted that I was TX and she was NB, we were able to build on a friendship instead of thermonuclear war. As a result, she was my first girlfriend, and she’ll be with me until I take my last breath, because my memories are pure and beautiful where she is concerned.
Off I go to give my girl and I an emotional roller coaster for the weekend where Deah just got to sit and gloat at her awesomeness, which was entirely deserved. I really only remember two lines from that trip, one funny and one that hacked me in half.
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but sometimes when people are awful to you, you get an apology you never asked for and yet mightily deserve. She apologized for breaking up with me. That wasn’t new. It was the context. She didn’t apologize for being a bad kid. She apologized for not sticking around long enough to see what would have happened had we become partners as adults, because, and here’s the kicker. It made me cry……….. she thought it was something that we would have been very good at and she was sorry she never got the chance.
In what universe would that not take your heart and beat it within an inch of your life? Everything I had ever felt about Meag (and it was Niagra Falls) just rushed to the surface of my skin. Outwardly, I didn’t say anything. Inside, I was 18 years old, crying for myself and for all the missed dinners with our own kids.
I also had to get angry to get over it. My inner monologue ran thusly.
“HOW DARE YOU TAKE AWAY MY CHOICE! HOW DARE YOU NOT ALLOW ME TO FORGIVE YOU! HOW DARE YOU NOT TELL ME ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THIS UNTIL IT WAS SO ENTIRELY POINTLESS?”
But that’s why she told me. It was pointless to her, so she didn’t attach any emotion to it. I am all emotion all the time, so it wasn’t tantamount to admitting to myself that I was still in love with her and I should drop everything and become Canadian right this very minute forever and ever amen, though the idea still doesn’t suck.
It was acknowledgement of death, grief, and loss. Our relationship has died. Our relationship has risen. (We haven’t talked in years.) Our relationship will come again. (See what I did there, Dana and Counselor?) Our relationship was just too hot to handle for a spectrum of reasons.
But I will never in my lifetime forget when Meagan and I were two peppers, and instead of being a third, Deah was the plain yogurt that cooled everything to the right temperature.
So, for a few paragraphs, I want to write directly to Meagan. Please be quiet and respectful. Take off your shoes in the house, my girl is Canadian.
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t introduce and close by saying “I love you.” The difference between you and all the other people I tell I love is time. It’s been 27 years since we’ve even kissed and held hands, but I love you more now because of those 27 years than I ever did as a mere child.
27 years of loving each other so much we couldn’t breathe. First because of attraction, then because of confidentiality, honesty, compassion. All the things that we really need in our friends, you presented them to me on a silver platter. 27 years where I would have literally died rather than watch you go through pain.
I am always yours, whether you need me or not. I will always love you, whether you need me or not. it’s been 28 years. There is nothing on earth I wouldn’t do for you. No boundary that would ever stand in my way. If something was going on with you, I wouldn’t even wait until we hung up to make my way to the airport.
Tony and I will be waiting in front of YOW with snacks and Starbucks. Get in, loser. We’re going home to Texas for some R&R with the boys. You can picture it, can’t you? You and me, John and Tony, O, J, T, L? It doesn’t matter that we’re not together. We’re good enough friends that we’ll fake it and make everyone crack up with laughter, because we aren’t a married couple, but we can sure as hell act like it. Surely I have enough practice at annoying the fuck out of you by now.
I love you,
p.s. When I am chilis, you are plain yogurt. When it’s your turn, you be the Vindaloo. I’m yogurt. I’m cool.
I am editing this entry to tell you the funny story that happened on my trip to Ottawa. Meagan and I were setting up her living room like a coffee house so we could get that intimate vibe of talking with friends, and I made the tea. I was particular about the tea, because I’m particular about all beverages.
That reminds me of something I need to tell Sam…. hold please.
The way I make my coffee so good is to use the scoop that comes with the machine and take the time to level off every tablespoon. Use 1 LEVEL T of dry coffee for every cup of water. It will mellow out and be absolutely delicious if you use the same ratio with cold brew. Just set it up in the fridge at night and it’ll be better than anything Starbucks could ever dream of making. Give me Cafe Bustelo or give me death.
It’s not like Sam makes coffee wrong, y’all. It’s that I was in charge of it one morning and she asked me specifically what I did different than she did and I didn’t answer her. I mean, what are the odds that I walk into a relative stranger’s house and her coffee is the one I’ve obsessed over since I worked at Tapalaya, in Cajun fine dining.
We had our own delicious coffee, Cafe Du Monde, of course. I drank A LOT of it because it was coffee and and yet it was only half-caf because of the chicory. But there was a Cuban restaurant within walking distance of Tapalaya, so I don’t remember if Chef and I ever went together, but we definitely took turns getting Cafe Bustelo cups of coffee and lattes.
Speaking of half-caf and chicory, Cuban coffee doesn’t play. Two Bustelo lattes and you can smell numbers.
Back to Meagan and Deah and the living room and the tea.
Meagan asked me how I made my tea so goddamn good. I said, “I steep it for 11 minutes.”
Meag said something like, “what’s so special about eleven minutes? That seems oddly specific.”
Without even a hint of irony and not trying to be funny, I brought both Meag and Deah to tears.
I said, “I steeped it for 10 minutes and it wasn’t long enough.”