Last week I thought I saw him at the Bruce Springsteen concert. There's no reason to believe my eyes other than an association between him and his favorite musician and how he loved the opening line of Thunder Road.
And it brought back flashes I've detailed once before. How he pulled me with one arm into his skinny length, how he'd fix me in a smile with a grin with dimples, the marathon phone sessions from Brooklyn to Missouri as our voices skipped from sports to film to literature to rap to faded with sleep in the dawn. And then: how he cried in my arms one night about the pressures he felt to be perfect, how he wondered aloud if his parents loved him, how he hid the depression that finally outed, how he truly thought it was impossible for me not to miss him.
I thought then that I'd never recover from losing love that shook me. But he was my best lesson in how some people can unfold. We believe sometimes they are who they say they are, when it's their actions that show their true form. How those who can fear who they are underneath say the right things for affection until their praise proves a feint.
I thought my heart would skip or a feeling would echo but neither happened. My father, as usual, was right. He promised and predicted back then that I wouldn't regret taking a risk that failed because we only wish for revisions when we shy from the possibility of mistake.
And I remember his voice softened a bit for my younger self when he said that he hoped I'd learned from all of it to give my heart to those who deserved it better. How he hoped I'd learn to know it wasn't my fault for thinking M was who he seemed at first. How people can unfold from the hopes we have in them into the more fragile art they prove to be.