1. a course along which someone or something moves.
~ the course that must be taken in order to reach a destination
~ a general way in which someone or something is developing.
I came home from Orlando and full immersion in motorcycles and got a new job, at a bookstore, obviously. Lets call said bookstore N&B booksellers and call it a day. I love bookstores of any kind, they are like the ocean for me, I feel more at peace and like myself when in their presence.
When I lived with my grandparents, it was a hot and cold kind of situation. They were in turn the worst and best things for me. I learned to function in the kind of community I wanted to be a part of, educated, intelligent and lacking in the day-to-day kind of violence my earlier years had made me dull to. There was a lot of bad there too, but what I have always been an excellent mimic, trying on behaviors, speech patterns and attitudes like hats, trying to find what worked for me, what I wanted to be. At some point my grandfather told me that Knowledge was the only thing that couldn’t be taken from me, no matter what I had lost or would lose, I could keep whatever I was willing to learn and I took that to heart, I still do. I am like a magpie with shiny bits mixed in with the mundane, of information.
Working at the bookstore surrounded me with this kind of nest, and one day I found another magpie, sitting by the windows reading a pile of magazines and books. He was the kind of exuberant person that I am both attracted and terrified of; I have never been able to be so outwardly passionate. It always feels as if I might be sucked in to their passions and lose myself. I honestly can’t remember the first conversation or how we got there but eventually he offered a room to rent at his apartment, which was just down the road. I had been staying with the ex which I had wanted to escape from in the first place, this seemed ideal so I moved in.
Mahlon had a beautiful three-legged cat named River, about 15 guitars, 10 bass guitars, a saxophone, flutes, a multitude of tribal instruments, a Wurlitzer piano, a stand up bass, a violin, acoustic and digital drum sets, a handful of oil paintings in progress and one couch. Oddly enough he worked in the tech field. He was scattered, driven, passionate, pragmatic, moody, kind, selfish and superfluous all at the same time, possibly in the same moment. Perhaps people like Mahlon make me nervous because I suspect the same behaviors are just below the surface of my control, and it is a line I am afraid to cross.
He convinced me he couldn’t make eggs properly so I would make omelets, he played guitar while we sat on the stoop and discussed big and small things. We downloaded and watched every episode of Daria in front of his computer, smooshed together to get a better view. We would lie on the floor and talk about anything and everything and I would try my non-musical hand at various instruments floating like flotsam around us. He let me play his beautiful white Fender bass and taught me my first cords. He refused to buy cigarettes on principle due to the rise in cost but bummed mine most days. We regularly went to diners and pretended to be an older argumentative but loving Jewish couple from Queens for the duration of any meal. He told me that an artist is someone who shits in their palm and goes about showing it to everyone saying “Isn’t this shit lovely? Doesn’t it smell sweet”.
I have a life peppered with these friendships, this is the only way I know how to make them. I am like a small child that meets someone and immediately declares them their bestest friend in the world. I want nothing else than to immerse myself in them, to love them passionately, to spend the kind of time most only dedicate to new lovers, I want to be in love with them. I want to know what they are afraid of, what makes up their day-to-day life, what brings unexpected joy and can cut like a knife to long-buried sorrow. I want to sleep with them, so I know what they are at their most base and naked, I want to sing off-key on long drives and argue over the minutia. Each of these people shifts my life, changes my perspective and the lens I see life through and I crave it like a drug; more when I was younger, but it is always there. Mahlon and the bookstore were these things for me, at a time I consciously changed direction. . Eventually I can take a break but afterwards, they are a part of me, they are the relationships I have kept , they make up the family I have chosen, and that in turn, chose me.
Another piece of wisdom my grandfather bestowed upon me was this:
The mark of a good life, a life well lived, are the true friends you have. Not how many passing acquaintances, they mean nothing in the scheme of things. The people who you would not only trust your life to, but your loved ones lives to. The people who you do not have to ask for help, because they will already be there. When you die, if you can fill one hand with true friends, you have lived a good life.
I never learned it well with my romantic life but I have done pretty well with friendships. I have learned that the people you love should always help you be the best version of yourself, which is a hard lesson learned.
Mahlon would eventually slip out of my life but I only make friendships that can be picked up like an old, much-loved book and turned to any page, because it doesn’t matter where or when you left off.
“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of GreenGables