He kept sketches
in a book, and would I please stop calling it a diary because that it exactly what it was not. But it was. Sketches instead of words, that is all the difference, I told him, and he said, exactly, all the difference
. He drank wine with hot dogs and beer for breakfast
and kept his refrigerator stocked with leftovers from the best restaurants in town. He was handsome with sideburns and Buddy Holly glasses and jeans. He shaved his head in winter and wore shorts. He bought a motorcycle
and rode with a gang to Sturgis. Leather clad and bad, driving 55
He took me out once on a boat
on the Fourth of July
and made me close my eyes until he had rowed out to the middle of the lake. He made me open my eyes, then, there, surrounded by nothing but water and sky and look up at the colors bursting
overhead. Yellows and reds and greens. An orange one went off and he said, Huh, orange, never seen an orange one before. Orange, orange, orange, he played with the word in his mouth for a few minutes. Mumbling and stumbling over the syllable, turning it into two and then three and then maybe separate words all together. Orange
, orange, orange. I thought, orange, like it is something new or different.
He took me for crazy drives in the middle of the night and once called me up at three a.m.
to ask if I wanted to jump off a cliff with him. I said, Greg, would you please stop talking crazy
and he said, no, never. It was not a death wish but a need to feel like flying and so we climbed to the top of the cliff on the edge of that lake and jumped and splashed for hours. It was exhilarating and terrifying and the most fun I had maybe ever had. We jumped and jumped and for years I could not take a dive
without thinking of this night.
He took me once to California
on the back of his bike, to meet his grandmother. She owned a Harley
and made the best damn apple pie
I had ever gotten my mouth on. She had white hair in curlers and leather boots. It was easy to tell which side of the family he took after, both in personality and looks.
He was romantic and gregarious and spontaneous and it was always hard telling what his next move
would be. He was good at being timid
and even better at being brave. When he left it was a big surprise, probably more so for him than for me. This is what’s left of him to me, maybe there is more
but that’s not for you to know.