J and I have been sharing work recently. It is sort of strange to share work with someone who knows you better than most people on the planet but has never read your actual writing.
In August of 2005 I moved to Rome. This is a big and sprawling story but the part I want to talk about today is 244. That was my apartment. Blocks from Stazione Trastevere and facing the sprawling Porta Portese market on Sunday mornings our apartment had cool marble floors and vaguely Victorian furniture that might remind you of you grandmothers’ house. Quite unexpectedly I moved into 244 with strangers and met some people (who I’ll tell you a million stories about as time goes on) who became like a family I can’t quite live without. 244 had two incarnations—the first year and the second year but almost all of it revolved around this almost grand dining room table where we took turns cooking meals (some of us were better at this than others) and playing trivia with old cards that had questions about the Soviet Union and leaning out the window listening to the echoing ring of the Number 8 tram.
J would be mad at me. Or make fun of me. If I told you too many stories about him right here. But mostly what I want to say is he keeps me honest. And what I mean is that he calls me out (quite loudly) when I even think about lying about myself. Or to myself. Which is a maddening and amazing thing to have in a friend. This makes writing fiction very interesting. Because when we share this fiction with each other it sometimes seems like autobiography.
It’s not autobiography, he says.
But it is, I say, thinking of all the true stories he’s told me.
But it’s not. It’s just that fiction become supremely complicated when you know the writer.
In any case, what I want to say, is that I miss these guys like crazy tonight.
J, me and K. A fortress town in Malta, accidental Spring Break
The whole family. A little bit sad, a little bit crazy, a little bit uncomfortable having our picture taken in front of a dumpster.