However far away

Dear friends,

The guy with the ball in this photo is Justin. When I first met him I was very nervous because a) I had fallen madly in love with his younger brother Jeremy (the one whose back is to us), b) he was the first family representative I was meeting and I'm not very good at the first impressions game. Or the second impressions game. Or the third, etc... And c) I really, really did not want him to think I sucked and report back to Naples, Florida, in its entirety, "She SUCKS". Jeremy said, "Why are you worried, you're nice." And in the way he said it, I knew he wasn't making fun of me which is always my reaction to someone saying kind things. So I shut up.

J* and I, famous weekend sloths, were unusually productive that visit, hanging out at Brighton Beach where Justin bought a beer from one of those strolling beach vendors and was completely flummoxed that they didn't ask for i.d., to which I laughed and laughed, because something that seemed totally normal to me as a child was suddenly thrown into comic relief and I love that. Going to see Ryan Adams play Battery Park fo' free where Adams ranted drunkenly about "Metallica-errr" and his lover, water, even though it cheats on him with the soap. Watching J and Justin get competitive over volleyball at the Da Costa sports complex (TM) in Somers, complete with grunt and hustle. Sitting on the sidewalk outside of Sin-e on the 4th of July, waiting for J and Man in Gray to set up and talking about embarrassing and shameful moments in our lives as we threw loose gravel out at the razed street.

All of our friends said, they don't look like brothers but I disagreed. They shared similar expressions, reactions and the same gentle quality. There were times when they'd talk to each other in that sibling shorthand, and I was terribly jealous because that's what I wanted my entire life, someone kinda like me but not at all, who'd grown up in the same houses, gone to the same schools but in different grades, someone who could say something about mom and they would be talking about my mom. Someone who you could sit in silence with as you played some song that you both used to like when you were younger and you could look at each other and laugh without speaking and somehow be laughing at the same thing. It was wonderful to watch and bask in the second hand glow.

Some music notes: Justin ruined Sonic Youth's Dirty and Alice in Chains' Dirt for Jeremy by playing it too much when they were in high school. I heard Justin and my friend Gill giggling over the Tricky CD I had on. I was embarrassed 'cause I thought they were laughing at my questionable allegiance to trip hop but really it was because of some smutty lyrics Martina sings on Maxinquaye that took them by surprise and their laughter was infectious. It was the same day we watched 8 Mile, like twice or something 'cause there ain't no such thing as halfway crooks. Justin liked 311 a lot, which I secretly made fun of him for liking because I'm an asshole. He bought a live DVD of theirs in NY even though he didn't have a dvd player to play it on back home. He sat on J's living room floor and stared up at the screen like a little kid. Here's 311 covering The Cure. This is where our rivers meet, I suppose.

I let Justin take my picture which I never do because I am extremely un-photogenic and if I believed I looked the way I do in photos, I'd never leave the house. Naturally, that picture was no exception to the rule and the next time I saw him, I berated him for circulating that shiny-faced couch monster snapshot to his family to which he calmly replied, "Nah, it's ok. I told them you were pretty." I could tell he wasn't making fun of me. And once again, I was silenced. I thought to myself, where did these people come from? I'm so lucky.

Justin died on Sunday. The last time we spoke in person, I was covered in hives and was desperate to leave his apartment and go eat some Red Lobster. I am sorry that I won't get to apologize for that. Or scare him anymore with my kiss on the cheek/overly-fervent hug greetings. Or continue to promise him to keep taking care of his brother ("like you always do.") I'll miss him.

Love, D

* Here, J is for Jeremy. His mom told me that since everyone in their household was "J", people on the telephone asking to speak to "J" were always countered with a weary "Which one?"

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Blogger tina said...

That was a beautiful post D. You forgot to mention that he was a fierce v-ball player. I think he was also slightly scared of Jared's back hair at the beach, but took it all in stride.

12:04 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger d said...

thaaat's right. rockaway beach! how could I forget that mental snapshot of you in the fetching dark red bikini putting the lotion on furry jared. priceless.

12:30 PM, May 04, 2006  

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