The door to the apartment has closed, and I no longer have the key. It’s half past ten and the night bugs buzz between the spaces of my conflicting emotions. I’m sad, but I’m happy about it. Happy to feel the sorrow of leaving those I’ve grown to love, because that means I’ve learned to love.
A colossal cockroach scurries at my feet, and it doesn’t bother me any more. I know I’ll be seeing plenty more of the ugly buggers. Sometimes ugly needs more love than anything, so I tell the cockroach I love it, too. On my way to the car I think about the conversation I just had with my neighbor on the stoop.
I often parked in front of his place and he often stepped out to have a smoke or a drink, where we crossed paths with surprising frequency. I think we needed each other, if only for a couple minutes at a time. A five minute conversation can save your day.
He got me a job when I fell on hard times. We learned about each other and ourselves in the light of the moon late at night. I came home at three in the morning to find him outside drinking with his brother and listened to the funny stories of their unique childhood. We talked about baseball and relationships, life and art. I learned that if you say hi to your neighbor you can wind up with a friend.
He wasn’t the only one. I’ll never forget the brotherhood I formed with Ahmed and Abraham next door. They taught me about hospitality, women, culture, and how to laugh until you cry again. Ahmed and I would get on these waves of laugher and ride it until we thought we might die. In public or at home, it didn’t matter. We gave no thought to what we looked like or how crazy we may have seemed. We just laughed.
We lost it in a hookah bar one night. I can’t remember why but we couldn’t control ourselves. When we finally got composed we went and talked to the girls in the booth and ended up exchanging numbers. Ahmed said the girl he was talking to was from another Middle Eastern country that would make it hard for them to have any kind of relationship, so she wasn’t going to text him. I joked that being from California was the reason the Austin girl wouldn’t text me back. We shared a laugh but I felt sad that some situations remain so unresolved.
Ahmed even got me booked on a comedy show, and I was overwhelmed by the kindness he and Abraham showed me. Abraham gave me a bed, a TV stand, and an epic Cincinnati Bengals jacket. I’m not a Bengals fan but now I can be Joe Burrow for Halloween and pretend that women like me more than they actually do for a night.
They both showed up at my comedy shows all the time, and we started the unforgettable tradition of steak night on Thursdays, a proper gathering of five or six Middle-Eastern dudes and me. I envy the community in other cultures. In the United States we have so much abundance but we are lacking in comradery. We say hi to our neighbors less and less and become more and more absorbed by our own problems. One of the biggest things I’ve come face to face with over the last couple days is that I don’t have to do everything myself. In fact, it’s better that I don’t.
I don’t know if it’s pride or ego, maybe even fear, but I’ve realized that I’ve been trying to do a lot of difficult things all on my own. I even tell myself that nobody’s gonna help me, but that’s nonsense. People help me all the time, and those are the best moments in life. The chunks of time we take to help each other can’t be replaced by anything better.
As I walked upon the narrow path around the apartment building, I noticed my roommate had just pulled in after work. I was happy to see him again. He’s like the little brother I never had. People often thought we actually were brothers whenever we left the apartment.
All of the resentment I developed towards the previous psycho of a roommate was washed away by the connection made with Dominic. We understand each other’s sense of humor and share an uncannily similar psychological outlook on life. We have a lot of the same tendencies and issues, strengths and struggles. I often felt like I was looking back in time at an older version of myself.
I think we both grew up a lot during our inhabitance together. I certainly felt a new responsibility to be a role model. I started to think about how I would be as a father, and the possibility brought me a sense of confidence and joy. I knew our time together was always going to be limited, so I learned how to appreciate somebody’s company while you have it. I’m excited to see what’s in store for him in the future and I’m grateful to have made another close friend.
I sat in the car and flipped on my “Sad Songs” playlist I created on Spotify. The music sounded more beautiful than usual. The sadness was fleeting but the gratitude gripped me, and I hope to carry that through the rest of my days.
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