I just woke up in a sudden sweat and I don’t know if it’s because it’s hot outside or because I awoke from the worst dreams ever. Not nightmares, because there was a lot of stuff in there I liked (though the presence of the good put the bad in starker relief).
I was getting ready for a huge Puja, to be held at a different high school other than the one in Charleston. I haven’t been to Puja in years, but the last time I went is a dream itself. The organizers, it seems, threw a lot of effort to make this a fun time for the kids. I was dressed up in a tight white bike suit with mustard yellow details, and a helmet, possible full character makeup. I had a young child with me, probably Rimi, and in front of me was Roland. He didn’t have to turn around for me to know it was him, and vice versa. I wondered if I looked good with my hair all away. I kept my eyes down when I curtly and quietly said thank you, and quickly clipped away. As the distance between us became bigger and bigger, I thought to myself that I had become one of those people who ignored the first person they had ever kissed. I used to think it was impossible, criminal even, to lose that kind of relationship.
On each floor of the high school, and there were many floors, a sort of battle was going on with fake guns. The knowledge that it wasn’t real didn’t make my heart beat any slower. This was what I had always wanted, to be a CIA operative or a soldier, fighting when there was another, albeit lesser, thing at stake.
With two excitable, middle school boys behind me, and with Rimi by my side, I gauged the situation by gingerly opening each door. I wasn’t looking for a quiet battle- I was looking for Roland. I didn’t know what I would say or do once he was in my view- I think having in my view would have been enough.
Eventually I did make it onto a floor. I didn’t want to play anymore. A bespectacled young boy held me up with a gun, I assured him I had one too and fumbled to prove it. I remember shooting a lot of people with blanks. I wanted to find Roland and tell him it was actually loaded. I don’t know if I imagined this while dreaming or if it happened in the dream. I don’t remember if he saw me and chose not to come over, because I do remember not speaking with him at all in my dream. Or in any dream for that matter.
Later I was sitting in a comfy living room on a huge coach with Monica, flipping through channels that showed the various happenings at the Puja, similar to how the Capitol broadcast the Hunger Games. We were eating saucy pizza. I was looking for Roland on the TV, and even an entire channel dedicated to Novak Djokovic tennis could distract me. Then I saw James Franco on a luge (I guess the Shah of Iran was in charge of all this), and behind him was Roland. They looked alike.
Four years ago, me and Roland had a fight because I told him that I knew had only called to comfort me because Leslie had told him to do so. He was only sympathetic when he had an audience. After that, he didn’t call me for weeks. I had read in books about nervous women wringing their hands, and mentally that’s what I did for the month of June. Our friendship was surely beyond repair if we were estranged for so long. He did call again, to tell me gleefully, as if on a rollercoaster, that he was friends with Leslie again.
Last night was June 9. Also the three-year anniversary of my senior dinner cruise, the last time I ever hung out with Roland. Ever. I spent a good time last night re-reading our old AIM conversations and his new online resume account and made a few conclusions. It became glaringly obvious yesterday that though I can charm the pants off anyone and leave many people thinking I am the most interesting person they’ve met, I was a terrible conversationalist with Roland. I cringe at the thought of how…boring I was. I would spit out random facts about tennis and movies- which is not talking! I never talked about myself, what was going on in my head, my hopes and fears and causes. I wasn’t funny. I only flattered him. I doubt our phone conversations fare much better. Mostly he talked about himself, and anytime I attempted to lead the talk, he would sigh audibly and say goodbye. I also looked through his facebook conversations with Leslie. She wasn’t afraid to be mean to him, to tease and also make herself vulnerable. She was funny, and I couldn’t resent her for Roland liking her much more than he had ever liked me. He called her names and told her he missed her, things he was too dour to say to me ever. I know Leslie made him laugh so easily, that he was probably in love with her and always would become more vital around her.
I know this doesn’t sound romantic at all, but I can’t spin it. Not anymore. It’s starting to hit me that I had built up a lame friendship on an enormous foundation of elegiac surf-rock bands and discrete indie films. So quickly did lyrics and quotes make up my consciousness that the foundation became solid steel, unbreakable and beyond reproach. No one had ever felt what I had, I thought as I stood on a ground that was neither shaky nor there. It really wasn’t till yesterday that I realized that nothing from Roland or myself contributed to base I had lived on for the last six years.
I was relieved. I was missing something I had never had. I didn’t have to worry anymore about how I had lost him or how I would get him back. I’d love to talk to him, maybe once more, but I’d settle for him talking to me in one of my not-so-nice dreams. He may not have anything to say. I doubt I do. It would be just like old times.