some fall in love. i shatter.

The Boundaries of a Frying Pan (#30)

In Stories Volume 2 on November 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

Dear Steven,

You don’t remember when you first heard about it, but you’re certain you read it in a magazine. New York Magazine or Time Out New York. There’s no way you would have believed such a thing possible on the strength of someone’s word, particularly one of your quick-to-believe-rumors friends. It was too good for reality: a bar built on the remains of some decades old, decommissioned lightship. It was sitting just off the west side piers, halfway tucked behind a warehouse, near invisible to anyone not expressly seeking it out.  Even you thought it was just a boat that first time you saw it. Remember? It was just after four, nobody was there and there was no sign. You wanted to believe though so you cast your eyes around and marched up that little bridge that you always wanted to call the gangplank even though it led onto the pier, not the boat. And there it was: the bar, the tables and chairs, the boat laid out in all its dilapidated maritime glory. The sun shone on Weehawken and Hoboken, glittering off the office and apartment windows and the still waters of the Hudson River. You said it was dreamlike. I thought you were joking.

You passed a couple of white plastic tables and reached the bar, looking ahead to see the end of the pier, where most of the tables stood, and just off the side of the pier, the actual gangplank and the boat. I remember you marveling about how there were even more tables and chairs on the boat itself – I thought you were covering for a disappointment that the bar itself was on the pier and not the boat. I think you dreamed of sailing away on a bar boat of your own. You began talking about the rusted patches on the boat as if it were some exotic foreign creature that had traveled back from… well, nowhere. It was a lightship, after all. The rust worried everybody else but you thought it was so cool, so somehow authentic.

It was far though, far from anything and everything that we knew. It was on the river, so of course it was far. You liked the last few avenues of that walk: the storage facility, the truck rental place, the strip club, that one other bar we ran to in the rain that one time, remember? We ran into Dee there. She liked that place, you hated it; wasn’t your precious boat bar. I’ll be honest, I can’t even remember the name of the place – all you ever said was, “Let’s go to the boat.” And you said it so frequently; if it wasn’t “Let’s go,” it was, “I’m already here, come meet me.” Do you remember how many plans were scuttled for that place? People talk about lost weekends; it was like we had a lost summer. Dinners canceled or relocated to the boat, weekend plans jettisoned because you could never leave and were hung-over more than I can remember and could never crawl out of bed Saturday mornings until it was no longer morning.

You were in thrall to that fucking boat and I’ll never really understand what the appeal was – I don’t think you’ll ever understand it either. Was it the unmooring? The sense of being on an edge? Being disconnected? Was it the surprise? Have you thought about it at all in hindsight? Maybe it was simply a novelty in a summer that you expected little from. Some of us expected a little more: a little more adventure, a little more love, maybe just a bit more sobriety. Dammit, Steven, I’m getting pissed again just thinking about it and it’s been months since we were last there.

That first weekend in September, I know you remember it; you acted like it was the greatest trauma when the bartenders told you. They had to take aside after closing – they were fucking worried about how you would take it – to tell you that the bar was going to be closing shop for the year. Summer season was ending, they said, and a bar on a boat just can’t cut it when the weather begins to turn. Two more weeks, they said. You were crushed and didn’t even bother going back those two weeks. That was the same weekend of my going away party, but you didn’t come to that either. You didn’t do anything that weekend, I don’t think; you had split to your parents in Vermont, left on Thursday evening without telling anybody. Jenn told me later after I was already in LA; not that it was a secret but you simply hadn’t breathed a word to anyone until you came back two weeks later.

Did you even know I was having my party that weekend, or that I was leaving? Of course you did, even if not consciously, because we had talked about it a dozen times at least. There were only so many conversations to be had on that goddamn boat, so we cycled through a few times and recycled a few more. You knew. You told me you would be at the party, both before you knew what was happening to the boat and after. Some part of me believed you would be there even if the rest of me knew that it was just wishful thinking. Was it even wishful thinking at that point?  I don’t know – I don’t think so – I had pretty much stopped caring by that point. Any potential that had existed in the springtime, any of the desire that had built up between us over the years had dissipated like… I don’t know, beer spilled into the Hudson? How’s that for you, you appreciate that, you can relate to that? Jesus, I can’t believe I’m still going on like this, like there’s some point I’m trying to make. I thought you would have understood by now that there’s no point to anything that may have existed between us.

But then you send me that email from out of the motherfucking blue, asking me if I’m coming back for Christmas, asking if I might want to get together some time and talk, if I might be getting tired of LA. If I might fucking be getting tired of LA? I’ve only been here for three months! I came here because shit was turning bad for me in New York and I needed to get away so even though I hate LA so far, I need this place to work for me. Steven, you knew all of this before I even left so why are you asking me now? Why are you bringing things up again and making me second-guess the decisions I didn’t want to make at the time? Maybe you don’t understand, maybe you never did and that’s why we never made that connection I had hoped for.

Did you know that some of us had a good time last summer? Did you know that some of us were able to break away from the pull of that stupid fucking bar and actually live our lives? I know that you loved the idea of being the host of a talk show – you were always there and the people that came around were like special guests; some of us repeating characters and some showing up just once or twice. For a while there, I was like some kind of sidekick to you. Did you ever notice that some of us drastically stopped coming around so often? I heard that you did notice, that it eventually broke through that thick skin of yours once the bar had sailed away. Was it sad, that moment when unfortunate reality came knocking? Well, we all got the same thing; we just felt it sooner and some of us more poignantly.

So, no, I’m not coming back east for Christmas; no, I don’t want to see you; and yes, I’m already tired of LA but I’m less tired of it than I am with the bullshit back home.

Fuck you very much, Steven.

Love,

Meredith.

 

 

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