I was just sitting on the couch crying at long island medium on netflix, of all things. crying for the simple reason that in every episode, the running theme in what the dead are trying to communicate to their living loved ones is: don’t feel guilty. don’t feel like you could have done more. you did all you could. our beloved dead, they just want us to be happy. I could have used that message a long time ago, but here it is, now. I suppose I will need it again, soon enough.
last week I saw n. for the first time in a decade, really. she’s one of my good friends from high school. we’d lost touch because she was in a supreme downward spiral. she pushed everyone away & then disappeared. I had no idea what happened to her, and her birth name is a very common one, so she’s hard to track on the internet. but then last spring we ran into each other on the street in Oakland. she lives in santa cruz, not far from here, and last weekend I was down there & I gave her a call. she picked me up & we drove to the beach, trying to encapsulate the past decade when there was so much to say.
I said, “I thought you were dead.” she says, “I really did almost die,” and then told me how she came to live. she is healthier than i’d ever seen her. we saw people swimming in the ocean and we decided to go. to the nude beach, because we didn’t have bathing suits. the pacific ocean, in October. I haven’t been in this body of water yet, it’s too cold up where I live. it was kind of too cold then, but the water helped us focus. I put my head under and let out an involuntary yelp and she laughed so hard. it was sunny and here we are, this girl I love so much, who I honestly thought was gone forever, I mean even when I saw her she acted like a ghost, it was impossible to talk, she wasn’t even there. and now she is here, and I am here, and we were there, and I got salt on my face like I was craving, and we were so cold but we didn’t mind, every nerve in our skin firing, the discomfort reminding us that we are still alive.