High school buddies are like walking archives of yourself, you meet up with them and all the awkwardness and silliness of clumsy flirting, expert cheating and naive break-ups hit you like a slap on the face, sudden but not as painful as you thought it would be.
Mickie was like our prom queen, only, you know, queen. He was the first among us to kiss a boy, to openly flirt, to fall in love, and I suppose, to get his heart broken. I would watch from the stone benches around the school quadrangle how he worked the boys, and it was just magical. He was the key to a portal, an alternate reality to gayville.
Dab was quiet, sometimes awkward, and very stiff. Like he had some weird bone disease, cemented joints. A tinman who had played volleyball and sang Jose Mari Chan songs. Sometimes, at the same time.
I rarely thought of them after finishing high school. And never really missed them. Thinking back now, I did cut them off like a leg. Diabetic and useless. I just wanted to move on from the rejection, the laughed at spelling bee champion.
14 years later, and it doesn't really matter. Fact is, we all laughed and loved our young hearts out. Together, mean and brilliant and innocent. And drinking together now is, I don't know, like being in the then and now. A temporal fold in the space-time continuum where we are grown-ups and children at the same time.
Mickie is still graceful, still coy and majestic. Dab, dark-eyed and now gay, has a welcome sweetness. A real warm smile, as palpable as heat.
Dab flew over to South Africa last week where he will manage his father's printing press business. And I can't get over it, can't jump across the void he has left. It has been a four-month reunion, of careful catching-up and careless drinking. And suddenly this.