Written By Angela Sabo
Author Bio: Happy when writing and reading
He said he was holding her up on the toilet; she was vomiting and had the runs all at once. He said she was “literally shitting and there was vomit inches away from his face.” He said “most guys couldn’t handle that” and for the first time in a while I believed what he said. While he talked he moved his hands around and hit them on the table. What he said was so disgusting and moving, I was sweating and laughing, wide-eyed and uncomfortable. I thought back to the time I threw up old lasagna my dad brought home from work, I threw it up so violently that it stung as it poured out of my nose. Each time I hurled up a serving, I looked at my parents standing in the doorway. They loved me so much they would get as close to me as they had to. I thought that if they had to put their face in my regurgitated lasagna in order to save my life, I knew they would. I felt good that I had thought that. I felt weird thinking that I’d felt good having thought that.
He said out loud “the world wasn’t ready for me” and then the table shook when he put his hands down onto it. He said that guys in their twenty’s weren’t looking for a relationship. They weren’t looking to love so ferociously that they would stick their faces in old vomit to save someone. I watched Bob’s shimmering bald head move in and out of the inches close to my face as he adjusted around in his seat while he talked. He assured me that what was wrong with me was nothing actually bad, that it just seemed bad now.
I am a notorious mistake-maker, a chronic re-doer of bad things. I am always calling Bob on the way home from doing that thing I shouldn’t have done. But the world just wasn’t ready yet.
The beaches on Plum Island were different from the rest of the world. I learned to bird-watch there. I read my first Neil Gaiman book there, I choked on the pit of a cherry there and I survived a rough tussle with the undertow.
There is an abandon pink house that sits on the island side of the bridge. When I’d drive by, I’d pretend I lived there alone and content and if I only looked out the windows on the far side, I could pretend there was nothing near me for miles. I would throw things from my back porch into the marsh and watch them sink into the center of the earth. This is the place where Bob lives. He is my best friend, my living best friend anyway, and he is as bald as can be. He once told me a story about how he was standing at the urinal; doing his business and loudly playing an advertisement on his smart phone for cream that make your hair re-grow. No one would know it but he is extremely self-conscious of the whole thing. He wears wigs on Halloween and hats the rest of the time and he always tells me I should be thankful of my hair, the whole entire curly mop of it.
I always feel good around Bob, my best self. He has a certain way of matching my crazy. Or, my psychosis, as I call it. I’ve always been thinking of things outside of ways that I should. I think of things upside down or sideways. I think about some people as a lot more than they are. And some people, a lot less. Mostly, my psychosis is the watermelon everyone was excited to eat but turned out not to be any good, it is kitty litter, it’s space ships taking off just to explode in front of their loved ones. It’s spiral curl perms, it’s a fucking son of a bitch and I’m scared because of it I’ll be lonely forever and it will rain forever.
I hadn’t ever really felt insecure or even that bad about myself. I think I experienced normal things like feeling weird when I had to start wearing bras and eating in front of boys, but those things faded with time, as most things do. What grew into its place was a new understanding of myself and my overbearing intensity. Through life I fell in and out of friendships, which everyone fed to me, among other broken little lessons, that it was all normal parts of growing. But, what I could tell was not normal was the emotional pain attached with every friendship and as I got older, romantic relationship. Each new person, each new little glimpse of life, brought me closer to some meaning. I was fixated on the idea of not being alone- that if I was alone I couldn’t give any love.
With each new boy, my heart fluttered in a way I could never fully achieve any other place. When I was young I vacationed to Bar Harbor, Maine over summers with my family. There were days where we’d climb Cadillac Mountain and look over the top to nothing but dense fog clouding us just feet from our faces. Around me, my family sighed and ventured into gift shops and looked for bathrooms but I stood happily on the top of the mountain. For those times in my life, I’d felt lonely and alone and still like the rocks around me. Sometimes I wandered a little bit, admittedly looking for some scenery. Mostly though, I chased the fog, burying myself deeper and deeper until it felt like a dream, until the farthest thing from my mind was finding a boy, until my heart leaped and fluttered.
Eventually, my family stopped heading north in our free time and we spent summers moving each other in and out of college, new apartments, getting our cars repaired. Time seemed as though it was choosing sides and it was not choosing mine.
In my last years of college, I found Bob under the tattered and broken pieces of what had been my foundation for friendship. Together, we started piecing things back where we thought they belonged. Relationship after relationship, boy after boy, time after time, I called Bob to explain what I’d done or what someone else had done to me. I’d called at four in the morning when I walked out of Tyler’s house because I had a panic attack in the middle of my sleep and he told me to “go deal with it myself.” I called Bob the day after the night I’d drunkenly slept with Pat and run out of the house without my underwear and drove all the way home, confusedly and giggly. I called Bob when I had writer’s block, when I tripped in the dining hall, when I ate fast food three times in one week. And in between each time I needed Bob, he needed me.
Onward and outward I ended up in the same place: at a bar with Bob, in class with Bob, fighting over text with Bob, or at a table in the library arguing over whether or not the world was ready for us. We’d grown on each other and to each other. It wasn’t until recently I realized I’d spent all of my time wondering what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t maintain a relationship. I was hot headed, impulsive, passionate, willing and loud. I always sent the text that was too risky. I was never the last one to say, “I love you.” I was bold, full-bodied, and small but took up a lot of space in the lives of people that chose to love me. I couldn’t control it, I couldn’t contain it, and all I could do was be open and receptive to the feelings of others. And somehow in the very rubble I found Bob, I’d lost my ability to look far past my own bubble.
But, eventually, as I said, once I brushed off all of the cobwebs and dust from my issues and insecurities, I basked in the beauty I found. I had found something so beautiful, a true friendship I maintained with Bob. In the wake of pain, he always says, “You will find love and you will love until you die or it dies in you. There is no other way, and there never was.” Then, he says, “I’m pretty sure that’s Bukowski.” And each time he says it, he doesn’t remember saying it before, so it’s just like the very first time of all.