A Love Story
We stood at the airport and hugged — after nearly eight years together, Tim and I had thirty minutes earlier locked our old apartment door for the last time.
He moved to New York City, where he’ll be closer to his job as a pilot out of La Guardia. I’m staying, where I’ll be closer to my job as a journalist out of Wilton Manors. He’s taking our cat with him, as she’s way closer to him. Penelope Long (Penny) was named after Penelope Cruz’s role in “Vanilla Sky” and Lazarus Long, a recurring character in the science fiction novels from Robert Heinlein that Tim and I read growing up.
We’ve been friends since we were 14 or so. Immigrating to the U.S. at twelve, this makes Tim one of my longest lasting and closest friends. It also makes him the source of home for me, at least for the last third of my life or so. We took our first apartment in New Orleans when we were 20. We celebrated the night of the signing and woke up the very next morning to news that we had to evacuate for Katrina — boxes still duct taped. Later, upon our return, we would grab Penny from a shelter — she’s a Katrina cat.
We’d since moved to Houston together and later to South Florida together, he with dreams of scouring the skies and me with dreams of scrounging a living from writing (read “Illusions” by Richard Bach if you want to know the source of our motivations, and also because it’s a fantastic novella).
We think alike, Tim and me. We developed into adulthood together. We faced the worst together, and the best (so far). Sometimes the times were challenging and sometimes they were easy on the soul, but we braved through them alongside each other. A favorite pastime was wasting hours on the porch amid empty coffee cups and crushed cigarettes, cleaving away at philosophical building blocks and contemplating life. Unlike most of the people I knew, I had a human with whom I could share my secrets, my fears, my dreamy ambitions.
I love Tim, and always will. By some miraculous chance (read: of the non-religious kind), a Scot and an Israeli entered into the closest of relationships. And it’s a love complete with affection and adoration, my heart holds within it a spot with his initials on it, carved into it like some old tree in some small, rural town.
We hardly ever fought. Fights appeared in light of clashing opinions and were quickly dismissed when facts started rolling in. When we raised our voices, it was to prove a point or drown out a counter-argument to some idea we were debating. We never went to sleep angry.
Things like this end. It’s time for life to split apart its branches and lead us in separate ways. Will I ever see him again? Well, of course. His flight benefits mean there will be trips abroad. We have to share our favorite dish — pho — from its Vietnamese source. I will also have to visit Penny here and there as she continues aging.
Things will never be the same. I won’t be able to yell his name in the apartment and force on him a lede to a story I just wrote for his opinion. And likewise, he won’t be able to crack open a few beers and tell me about an interesting flight or a shaky landing.
Life sometimes forces you apart from those closest to you, for all the right reasons. And all you can (read: should) do is smile in appreciation for what you’ve gotten thus far.
I’m sure we’ll sit with our wives and children one day and continue some old argument about pessimism or truth, optimism or the music scene in New Orleans. We’ll probably compare flight against prose to see which one of us lucked out more. And we’ll clink our glasses together at the end, silently remembering that we lucked out the most just to be able to clink a glass with the man in front of each of us.
I always smile inwardly when straight men follow remarks to their friends with affirmations of their heterosexuality. “No homo,” they’ll say after a term of endearment. How very quaint and ridiculous! What exactly is this dangerous and unseen boundary for which the statement acts as buffer? It’s as if listeners will surmise the speaker as a homosexual upon hearing the term of endearment.
And what if they do? To what consequence is their assumption?
I’m reminded of a sentence in Richard Bach’s Illusions, which I mentioned earlier: “Live never to be ashamed if anything you say or do is published around the world, even if what is said is not true.”
But more importantly: If you make your love to exclusively pair with your sexual orientation, you’re missing out on an immensely magnificent part of life.
Here’s to you, Timbo. I love you.