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  • Last year I was still living in the Bay Area, having never left home. This is someone a friend and I found filling in the stacks in our beloved City Lights Bookstore. He sat down with us in some strange gesture of good will and we told him about how we and three of our friends had spent a night on the cliffs by a lighthouse and have since all been bound by something that happened there that we won't speak of. He and I tended to sanctify the strangers we met. It is important to note that we would later call each other lovers but in truth I think we were holding fast to our five way partnership before we would all go our separate ways.

    We sat on the floor of the poetry room on the top floor, shirts on a clothesline out the window swaying, our bodies erect, drinking in Matthew's every word, as he explained the fake IDs he'd sold out of high school, the lovers he'd met in his travels funded by the ID money, and how they had all gotten away since then. He was cynical about our hardheaded notion of maintaining steadfast interconnectivity with our friends, which we had thought sustainable for the way we protected the silence and solitude of the others. He works at City Lights because he believes it is clean money, and thinks he must be alone until he reaches 49 years, as his studies of Vedic astrology have told him it is so. He has hope for world-ending.

    When we left the bookstore we cried, because something about this conversation took us further and further into a stranger that opened himself to us, after a day of trying to really see the city clearly, after trying to not look away from window-washers, website advertisers chewing gum in the street, grateful old divas glad to be eating ice cream, scowling children in their vacant-faced fathers' arms, after really seeing all day, nauseous and bewildered, and certainly vulnerable, Matthew was someone that we bid to let us in, and without meaning to, he did. We found ourselves falling a little for this charismatic and weary stranger, who seemed dangerously smart but was resisting capitalism, and resisting settling down, seeking for himself. He seemed to us an artifact of a kind of daredevilish pride which we weren't sure we trusted, but adored.

    He was the mouthpiece of what seemed to be an honorable life to us two young aspiring ethical independent human adults, looking back it seems he appeared cosmically to us because we were needing something like him so much then. I went back to ask where he is, and presumably he is traveling now; he quit his job at the bookstore. Just like Matthew, to be gone without a trace. The woman I asked about his whereabouts said he'd like to think that there were people asking after him and worshipping him to some compromising degree. I have not spoken to my friend in months; we live across the country from one another. Like Matthew divined, we are as fractured from that spot as to be strangers. So it is.
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