“If you like to write, why don’t you just become a writer?”
I look at him.
“I’m serious. There are things you can do…”
We’re sitting on Jerry’s balcony. Some time ago it was eleven, and I should’ve left then, taken a bus back to my own squalid apartment. Instead I let my head loll back, the canvass chair rubbing knots into my hair. I pull on my beer and wedge my feet in the cracks between iron railings and sky. My calf muscles burn pleasantly and for the fourth or fifth time this evening, I wonder why I can’t look him in the eye.
“It isn’t that easy. You know that. I know it, it’s”
“it’s not about easy. You find something you love, and you go for it.”
Easy for you to say, I think. For a while, we don’t speak, just let the bittersweetness of being here past bedtime hang between us. This is a moment, I think. This is one of those moments, ghostly and breathless in its fragility, that I will replay on an endless loop later, in private.
“I can’t… perform on demand like that. I don’t write all the time,” I say into the blackness beneath the balcony.
Something in my voice kills the reply bubbling from his lips. He’s so eager, so full of hope for me and my future and my possibility and my brightness that I want to snap that tenderness from him, shake him by the shoulders and tell him it’s useless, that I’ll be dead by thirty five, with any luck.
For an uneasy moment, I think I’ve spoken aloud. He’s frowning, half twisted away from me, tracing circles against his can. I sigh. The sound doesn’t carry.
“I like writing, but not enough to make a living from it. I don’t know how… I don’t know how to even begin.”
He’ll tell me not to be so defeatist. I’ve put the words into his mouth before they’ve even struggled into the air between us. He is thinking. Mosquitos bat against next door’s half light; I can see their determined little silhouettes. We have candles and cava and crisp bowls perched on the stool between us. He is thinking, but I am thinking that there is nothing left to say.
The easy conviviality of before is gone, replaced by a Radiohead soundtrack and the weight of my unhappiness. I am not a writer, and this relationship is temporary. When I leave, I do so with promises to come around again soon. Long after he has sighed, showered and gone to bed, I am red-eyed and smoking, alone in my bedroom.