“I miss seeing you” Brian said over coffee at his apartment in Harlem.
Yes, a large percentage of my life takes place with, around, or in proximity to coffee. Only a fraction of a percent my life happens at his apartment, being that I’m only in New York twice a year. We text or talk only occasionally about things that don’t entirely mater. I lose contact with him, sometimes out of disinterest and sometimes because my life gets busy. That doesn’t seem to bother him.
He’ll hit me up six months after my last text, and I’ll respond to it, because deep down, I’m not a remarkable person, at all.
He’s a teacher, High school English, advance placement students – If I’m not mistaken. He tells me about James Baldwin, his favorite. Baldwin is a genius to his time and ours, but dear god was his writing packed with word-theatrics. In my experience, nobody discusses Baldwin to actually discuss Baldwin.
We use it to test one another’s intelligence, explore the other person’s depths, and intrigue whoever we’re speaking to. Baldwin’s words become less about ideas and more about allure.
Brian one-ups my opinions about the essayist/novelist every opportunity he gets. I think he thinks it’s sexy and I don’t think it’s unsexy, I just think it’s unnecessary.
You’re an English teacher. I’m a writer. We’re both capable of talking about Baldwin. You don’t hit me up out of nowhere to talk about Baldwin, and I don’t visit your part of the city to talk about Baldwin.
Let’s be honest – You call me once, every so often in case we get tired of Baldwin.
And it happens. We get tired of the lofty ideas and theories of why gay black men are the way they are in a country that is the way it is, and at least a couple of times a year, we’d like to just be what we’ve been deep down: men that crave touch, and feeling, and don’t want to be alone anymore.
We make poor use of an afternoon by laying around, partially dressed, and cuddled up. He’s telling me stories of the weeks he spent in Thailand, and then in Nicaragua. He’s well-traveled and I’m assuming by the length of his story, he’s quite proud of it.
I’m impressed, but not impressed enough to start answering his text messages regularly, not impressed enough to desire him in a dose higher than an afternoon at a time, not even for sex, really. But just enough to agree to the end our mutual and existential loneliness using nothing more than our bodies.
“You’re considering moving here soon right?” He asked, playing softly in my curly head of thick hair.
I didn’t answer. I pretended as if I’d fallen asleep in his arms as to not ruin a perfectly good moment. No part of me has any intention of writing in New York City; especially since I can write anywhere else, cheaper and while Baldwin likes to use beautiful words to make excellent points, I prefer to use no words at all to make equally valid cases.