1. Static
  2. “One day I met a man with the name of an angel. He was French. His accent was so thick it sounded fake. We got to talking and I told him what had happened. “You’re going to be fine,” Emmanuel said “right away. “Something bad always leads to something good.” He spoke from personal experience. His partner had died six years earlier. But he did not
    use that word, died, as he told me his story. Nor did he say passed away, a euphemism I had come to hate. Instead, Emmanuel said, “When my partner disappeared …” I knew this was not a case of poor English, a bungled translation. Still, I had to say something. “You said ‘disappeared’—” He nodded. “That’s exactly how it feels for me, too.”
  3. “The night after he died, I found that a sliver of light from a streetlamp shone through the blinds just so and cast a single yellowy tendril across his pillow. It was the opposite of a shadow. Which is as clear a definition as I can come up with for the soul.”
  4. “With morning, the light was gone, and I found the days empty and agonizing. It would take about three years for this feeling to pass—a thousand days, give or take—people who had been through this told me. As it turns out, they were right. What no one said is something I discovered on my own: A thousand days is a thousand nights is a thousand
    chances to dream about him.”
  5. “Couples captivated me—on the Tube, on park benches, arm in arm on the street. Couples so in love you could see it in their faces. But I couldn’t take pictures of their faces, and not because I was too shy to ask for a shot. Their smiles were heartbreaking. Instead, I took pictures of their hands, laced together as if in prayer, or their feet
    the erotic dance that is a prelude to a kiss.”
  6. “I’d brought with me several small personal items that I had not been able to—but wanted to—part with. For instance, his contact lenses, which had just been sitting in the medicine cabinet at home in San Francisco. To me, his contacts were as much a part of his body, his life, as his eyes. “Without them, he could hardly see. I tossed them into the
    Thames and thanked him for showing me a million things. Each subsequent bridge became an occasion for a ceremonial purging and a fresh round of tears. By the time I reached London Bridge, where I scattered the last of his cremated ashes, the only significant thing remaining of Steve’s that I had not thrown in was myself. Not that I didn't consider it."
  7. “He was brilliant, sweet, modest, handsome, and prone to sudden, ebullient outbursts of boyish enthusiasm."
  8. “But taking wrong trains, encountering unexpected delays, and suffering occasional mechanical breakdowns are inevitable to any journey really worth taking. One learns to get oneself turned around and headed the right way.”
  9. “If it’s late at night, I try to get into the first car and stand up front, so I have a clear view through the windshield. As the subway barrels ahead, star-like lights flickering on either side, I feel as though I am on a rocket hurtling through deep time, with no idea where we will land, or how, or when.”
  10. “The air was soft, as if unfinished dreams still emanated from everyone’s skin”
  11. “The other day, I was on a local 6 going uptown and seated next to a young woman with a baby in a stroller. At each stop, a man (always a man) would enter the car and end up standing right above us. I had my iPod on and was just watching. Inevitably, each man would make goofy faces and smile at the baby, and the baby would smile and make faces back
    At each stop, the standing man would be replaced by a new one, straight out of central casting: First, an older Latin guy. Then he gets off and a young black man appears. Then a white man in a suit. Then a construction worker with a hard hat. Tough guys. New York guys. All devoted to one important task: making a baby smile.”
  12. “Did that hurt?” she asks pointing to my arm. “Your tattoo?” I smile. “Yeah, it did actually. The skin there is really thin—lots of nerve endings. But it was worth it.” She nods. “What do you want to get?” I ask her. “A fairy—a little fairy—and then the Egyptian hieroglyph for destiny.” She is wearing a copper-colored wig, cut into a blunt bob
    with severe bangs. She looks a like an Egyptian princess. She is the Cleopatra of the C train.”
  13. “My head on O’s chest, he caresses my biceps, very, very softly. I think the Dilaudid has kicked in. "You like those?” I ask. “Oh yes—they’re like … beautiful tumors—” I chuckle—how flattering. “—voluptuous tumescences … !”
  14. “I: “Do you need anything?” O: “Could you pull off my socks?” I smile, and do so, kiss him on the forehead, and say good night. “I feel beautifully comfortable with you,” O says.”
  15. “I watched his face as his scrunched-up eyes traced his route on the map and he got his bearings. Satisfied, he looked around then settled into the empty seat next to me. He corralled his poles between his knees. You can’t be sitting next to a fisherman on a subway and not say something.”
  16. “You’re sadly mistaken if you think you’re in control when you go fishing.”
  17. “1-18-10: O: “It’s really a question of mutuality, isn’t it?” I: “Love? Are you talking about love?” O: “Yes.”
  18. “I just want to enjoy your nextness and nearness,” O says. He puts his ear to my chest and listens to my heart and counts the beats. “Sixty-two,” he says with a satisfied smile, and I can’t imagine anything more intimate.”
  19. “We had come to the roof, as is our custom, to have some wine. Normally, we take swigs straight from the bottle. But O, to prevent tilting his head back, has brought a straw. He takes a long sip from the bottle then passes it to me. It’s funny—drinking good cabernet through a straw—and even funnier when I finish my sip and the straw bobs back into
    the bottle—irretrievably."
  20. “I’ve suddenly realized what you mean to me: You create the need which you fill, the hunger you sate. Like Jesus. And Kierkegaard. And smoked trout …” I: “That’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me—I think.” O chuckles, then adds: “It’s a kind of teaching, in a strange way …”
  21. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could dream together?” O whispers.”
  22. “Did I write a poem for you?” he said. I stared back, searching my memory. A curtain lifted: Winter, 2009. Two in the morning. A snowstorm. I get out of a cab at Seventh and Christopher, and see a homeless-looking man on the corner. I give him the five bucks left from my cab fare. He thanks me but says he never takes something for nothing. All he
    can give me is a poem in return. He gives me a list of options. “A love poem, of course,” I request. And so he stands there, in the whirling snow, and recites by heart a poem about love—and, being about love, heartbreak. The words go from his mouth to my ears and are carried off by the wind. Two-and-a-half years later, on a different corner but under the same sky, we met again.”
  23. “One morning O tells me he had dreamt the word nephological (the study of clouds); another day, it was triboluminescence. I: “Such a lovely word—why triboluminescence?” O: “I like lightbulbs.” This didn’t seem to answer my question but I liked it anyway. He asked me to bring the volume from the OED—and a magnifying glass. O: “Well, that’s
    Interesting." He keeps searching. “Here we are! ‘Triboluminescence: the quality of emitting light under tremendous friction or violent pressure—1879.’”
  24. “O: “How much can one enter, I wonder, another’s insides—see through their eyes, feel through their feelings? And, does one really want to …?”
  25. “I soak for half an hour, O at the side of the tub stroking my leg. I feel drugged, tranquil. At one point, I feel him watching me quizzically: “Why does one close one’s eyes with pleasure …?” he wonders aloud.”
  26. “Well, one can say, a piece of music gave you pleasure, or seeing a handsome face, or smelling something delicious. But can pleasure be independent of any influences?”
  27. “Oliver, is this not happiness? Is this pure pleasure the same as happiness?” “I don’t know. What do you think?” “I think not. Pleasure, even if it’s not dependent on an object, involves the senses—is sensuous. Pleasure can bring happiness, but happiness doesn’t necessarily give one pleasure. So which is of the higher order of the two?”
    “Happiness. Happiness is more complex.” “Agreed.”
  28. “Next morning O reported that he had had a dream in which he was at a “charming little café in the shadows of two giant oversized mushrooms.” On the menu? “Two kinds of fern salad and a carrot salad with 7,217 different carrots.” He’d drawn the number (and a picture of the mushrooms) on the kitchen whiteboard when he woke in the middle of the night
  29. “O: “Are you conscious of your thoughts before language embodies them?”
  30. “Why is it hardest to write when there is so much to say?”