If you’re going to hear about my life I might as well get the sordid part out of the way first. I won’t bore you with details like the precise date and time but it was a couple of months ago on a chilly spring night. My family had been invited to a birthday party. I like parties in general. I had nothing against this particular party but sometimes you need a break from the superficial self-interested conversations going on around you. Which explains why I was alone, outside and drinking a glass of wine. Just to give you some background, we were at my friend Daisy's house. Daisy is and has been a good, close friend of mine. It was her daughter’s birthday we were celebrating and it wasn’t like the party was awful. It was just that I needed some time to be by myself. Enter Daisy’s brother Troy.

I didn't know much about Troy when I met him. Just the few things his parents and sister had shared. In the back of my mind I suppose I did wonder what Troy would be like. Daisy is shy and quiet. Her mother is the same way and they're both very strong, independent and attractive women. Unfortunately, Troy doesn’t look much like the women in his family. He isn’t drop dead gorgeous but he has two of the most deadly weapons a man can use on a woman. He’s funny and he has a heart.

The funny side of Troy was the one I met first. My friend Daisy is one of those people who manages to be both reserved and popular. She thinks about others and she doesn’t like to offend people so the entire neighborhood had been invited to her daughter's birthday party. Daisy has a neighbor named Lynn who lives down the street from her. Lynn’s daughter Madison and Daisy’s daughter Madeline are almost the same age and you’d think that for one day Lynn could stop being a snotty, snooty bitch but I guess not.

The main reason I had gone outside was because I didn’t want to listen to Lynn going on and on about how wonderful her daughter was. Hence the glass of wine in my hand and my proximity to the patio doors that led to the deck. I was standing on the edge of the deck listening to Lynn extol the questionable virtues of her daughter Madison. Apparently Madison was practically a contender for the 2008 Summer Olympics which is admirable but I had heard enough. I was drinking my wine and wishing Lynn would shut up when I heard a voice I had never heard before. “Doesn't that loud mouthed bitch ever shut up?”

Amazingly I didn’t drop my glass or spill any of my wine. I turned towards the house. Troy was standing near the deck and even though I was standing on the deck while he stood on the sidewalk Troy was still taller than I was. I don’t even know what about his question made me laugh the way I did but his comment that only I heard was an award winning icebreaker. Troy pulled up a chair. I poured him a glass. Time fell through the night like the wine that flowed from the bottle. People came and went but Troy and I stayed out on the deck; talking, shivering and getting to know each other.

Periodically Daisy would come out to check on Troy. She worries about him the way I used to worry about my brother. Daisy has serious health problems of her own but she still worries about Troy the way that older sisters worry about younger brothers. Her mother had told me that Troy he had been on sabbatical for the past couple of months, ever since he had been involved in a bad cycling accident. He had fractured his left tibia just above the ankle and during the crash he had sustained some internal injuries which probably had a lot to do with why he was quietly sitting in the corner when most of the rest of us were standing around and talking. The crowd started thinning as the sky grew dark. Troy and I waved to people as they left but as soon as we had told others goodbye we picked the conversation right back up where we had left off earlier.

A lot of what we talked about was Daisy. People looking at her think that she has it all. The house, the car, three truly beautiful children. Her husband has a great job but what Troy and I know that a lot of people don't is what a fucker Daisy's husband Cole is. Cole had come outside to offer Troy a cold beer. It was interesting to watch Cole and Troy intereact. Cole has short man syndrome. I thought Troy would get up when Cole came out but all he did was tip his chair back and nod at Cole as he refused one of his favorite beverages. I hate Cole because of the way he treats Daisy and I had never met Troy before but it seemed that his waving the beer away had more to do with the man offering it than the drink itself. After Cole went back in the house Troy asked what I thought of the Cole and Daisy situation.

I try not to make snap judgments about people but there were three things I liked about Troy. He didn't like Lynn taking over the party. He had said something about it out loud in front of someone he had never met and he hadn't been in his sister's house at all that evening because that was how much he hated Cole.

Daisy's mother doesn't like Cole but she's careful not to let it show. We all try and keep peace for Daisy's sake because Daisy is the one who suffers if we don't. Cole rarely takes anything out on any of us and I know why. It's much more effective to take things out on his wife. He's smart too. He knows that Daisy's pride won't let her tell the rest of her family and friends how things are really going. Troy asked if I thought Daisy would ever leave Cole. He asked if she had any other friends besides me. I had been sitting down but after he asked me about Daisy and her friends I got up to look in the window. Daisy and I were mirror images of each other at that point in time. She was standing in the corner of the kitchen. There was a big glass of deep red wine in her hand. Anyone could tell she wasn't having the good time everyone else was. Everyone except Cole that is.

Together Troy and I watched Daisy turn away from Cole and his kiss. We watched Daisy pour herself another glass of wine and we both smiled as Daisy washed her hands and left the room without talking to Cole or having to touch him. Daisy has her own ways of getting back at Cole. A couple minutes went by before Troy asked what it would take to get Daisy to leave Cole. I hadn't said anything earlier but now that I knew Troy was on Daisy's side I felt better about talking to him about Daisy and her current situation.

I poured myself another glass of wine before I told Troy that in my opinion Daisy would be better off by herself but I also told him that I knew Daisy would never leave Cole. Troy was still watching Daisy move through the crush of people in the living room. He started talking about Cole and Daisy. She had met him as an impressionable teenager. He had been one of her first love affairs. Daisy and Cole have always had an on again/off again relationship and it's been that way ever since she was seventeen. Troy told me a lot of things that I could have guessed but he had such a way of talking about things and ideas and people that I wanted to hear more of what he thought.

Troy mentioned he was considering moving back home and that's when I knew that Troy had a heart I could love. Troy told me that if he did get a job in the area he'd move back and let Daisy and the kids stay with him for as long as it took for Daisy to get her back on her feet again. I tried to picture my brother offering to let my girls and I live with him. He would probably let me stay at his place but it wouldn't occur to him that I might not have any other place to go and I'm not like Daisy. I have a lot of friends, a very close family and I do have places to go when things get tough. The night went on. The conversation went from light to serious and back to fun. Troy and I kept talking. We kept drinking and by the end of the night I had gathered a lot of information about who and what Troy was all about.

The stars were out that night. The rest of my family had left hours ago. I should mention that my friend Daisy has a lot of physical problems. Long ago I had agreed to help her clean up after the party which was why I was still there after everyone else had left. By the end of the night Troy was drunk and I was far from sober. I don’t know if I was actually drunk or not. Looking back I don’t think I was. I think I wanted to have the excuse that I was drunk but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t actually drunk when the night came together for me and Troy.

Before you get the wrong impression it was technically just a goodnight kiss. I'll argue that it was somehow more than that but I'm sure that's what Troy intended. To kiss me goodnight as a way to thank me for the opportunity to talk about something that had been bothering him. Troy had been telling me about his ex-girlfriend and how he had loved her. There was something about Troy. Something about the heart behind the brash arrogance that I found intriguing. That and he was so freaking funny. I was laughing so hard I had to wipe away tears of laughter. If I had only known then I'd be wiping different tears away later I might not have kept filling glasses and laughing with Troy. But maybe I would have. I may or may not have been drunk but Troy definitely was. I didn’t know that at the time. Part of me realizes that if he wouldn’t have been drunk none of this ever would have happened but another part of me wouldn’t trade all the pain and all the heartache and all the late nights sitting up and talking for anything.

You can probably figure out what happened so I won’t bother spelling it out for you. It’s still a fresh wound. Blood seeps out at unexpected times and I don’t pity people without scars I pity people who don’t bleed when love cuts them out of their lives. I keep telling myself that Troy was a summer thing. He was a summer fling and now that summer is gone so is he. It’s been difficult trying to live my life without Troy.

Every time Daisy and I get together I'm tempted to ask her about him. Daisy doesn’t talk much. I talk non-stop but I can and do listen to other people. Daisy is going through a lot right now. She's going through things that have nothing to do with Troy and she doesn't need yet another thing to worry about. But that doesn't stop me from wishing I could talk to her the way I did in the past. I'm sure she knows more than she lets on. Daisy is like that. Part of me wants to shake her for all the things she never told me about Troy.

Daisy never mentioned that the guy who very nonchalantly gave me a goodnight kiss on her deck had a doctorate in physics. She had mentioned that he was on sabbatical. She had told me he was in town for a job interview. All of those things were true but they weren't the truth. Troy never told me the whole truth either. He never lied to me but he had the same way of evading subjects he didn't want to discuss that his sister does. Troy had come back home to convalesce after some of his injuries. He ended up spending quite a bit of time in town. More time than he intended to I'm sure. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get to know Troy a little better but I should have known that drunken kisses and a warm spring romance could never last forever.

Every day without Troy is one that seems like it will never end. I go through all the motions. I've tried to adjust to the changes in my life. I’ve made some lists. I’ve lost some weight. People tell me that I seem happier and more confident since I’ve gotten a job. None of that seems as important as it once did though. There are so many things about Troy that I’ll never forget. We could always talk to each other and that’s what I’ll miss the most. Just being able to talk to him. Sometimes love means watching someone you love walk out of your life so goodbye Troy. I love you. I miss you. I still write you love letters. Strike that. I was going to end this here but I have a few things I have to get off of my chest first.

Troy -

First of all I did love you but I don't think I was ever in love with you. I think you thought I was interesting. I found you fascinating and I'm sure no one is ever going to believe that we didn't sleep together. That's why I wrote this with the implication that there was something more than a couple of exceptional goodnight kisses involved. I can't believe I have feelings this intense for someone who lives halfway across the country and I'm sorry you had such a rotten summer but even my kids could have told you teaching summer school and grading undergrad papers wasn't going to be anyone's idea of fun.

I also want to say that I think the way you treated me was shitty. I helped you through some tough times. I listened to you when you had things you wanted to tell me and what really hurts isn't so much that you called things off it's that after you called things off, we had a great conversation and now apparently you never want to talk to me or see me again. That's what really hurts because after you told me it was over I believed you. I realize that we can never start over but hope is a dangerous thing and talking to you that last time gave me some hope I didn't have before.

I told you I knew what it was like to go into something knowing it would end tragically I just never dreamed that you and I would both be on the receiving end of a tragedy of our own. I don't believe that you're as unaffected by all of this as you'd like me to think because I know you better than that. I am percective and whether you believe it or not there are times when I can read your mind.

I keep searching for ways to write you out of my life but every time I open the pantry my brand new bottle of Greek olive oil mocks me. I wrote about that day and the girls are still talking about the guy who drank the last few drops of olive oil straight from the bottle. The girls and I went shopping the other day. I bought some more facial cleanser. I opened it up and the only thing I could hear was your voice telling me the perfume companies should create something that smells like oranges melting into peaches and cream.

It's all those little things I can't stop thinking about. I should hate you. I should be furious at the way you treated me. I won't deny that there are times when I am raging with fury but every time I think about how satisfying it would be to slap you the way your mother never did I remember the softer side of you. Somehow the softness is what sticks with me even though the glimpses were few and far between. But they were there. I won't forget that. Ever.

You already know how I feel about you. I of course have no idea what you think of me. You've said your goodbyes. Now it's my turn and it's turning out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be. If I have nosy garbagemen who snoop in other people's trash they can laugh at some of the things I've discarded but I want my final letter to you to reflect what I feel for you. I don't want to write you love letters. I want to see you and be with you regardless of how many times I tell myself that I hate you and wish I never would have met you.

I won't write you any more love letters but I don't hate you either. Regardless of what you think of me I think you are someone incredibly special. You know that I like you for so much more than your body heat. I regret some of the things I said and did but I do not regret meeting you or any of the time we spent together. Here's hoping that the future in front of you is just as bright as the stars we looked on at night and the dawn we shared the time we stayed up talking. I'll be thinking of you from time to time and hoping that someday soon we will be friends again. With some love, some misgivings, and wondering if I'll ever see you again because I'm afraid I won't.

jennifer

P.S. I know you'll get a kick out of this. I was over at your sister's place. Madeline came into the kitchen and after she left Daisy told me that Madeline had asked her why Daisy and I always kissed whenever we saw each other. Daisy explained that sometimes people who are really good friends kiss. Madeline told Daisy that she wanted to start kissing people. Your sister and I were both laughing about that until Madeline asked how come Daisy never kissed Cole. Daisy didn't fall apart until later in the day. Her shoulder is still really bothering her and I'm sure she hasn't told you how much either. Give her a call. She misses you and I do too. I hope your students cooperate and the biggest problems in your life are the ones concerning the Second law of thermodynamics. Take care. Drop me a line sometime just because you can.

j

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