Saturday, June 7, 2008

Brooklyn to Wichita

Last night I was falling asleep and the air was night-time cool. I had a long week and felt exhausted so when my phone rang, I didn’t want to answer it. But I looked down. It was Mikey and I haven’t spoken to him in months. So I answered.

Mikey was sitting on his porch on a sticky-hot summer night, halfway to the other side of the world in Wichita, Kansas. He was holding his son, Vincent, who didn’t seem to want to sleep.

Mikey and I talked about fatherhood and the realization, the moment of realization when you know it’s just you who has to figure it all out. We talked about making decisions when the decisions aren’t about you anymore. We talked about writing a book, and the reality that comes, somehow, with selling it, with knowing people are going to read it.

Mikey and I have been having late night talks—about the confusion we stand in and the possibility in new jobs or relationships and the theories of why it all is the way it is—we’ve been having these conversations for more than 12 years but last night, sitting on my Brooklyn window-sill and Mikey on his Wichita porch, caught me off guard. It occurred to me that the stories I write come from the possibility in these conversations. These kinds of conversations. Evaluating. Asking “what would it be like if…” and so, to figure it out, I make up characters and scenes and moments where that “if” exists.

I suppose I’ve known, all along, that this is what I do. But when Mikey asked me what this book I’ve written is about, I thought of a dozen conversations he and I had in college and I thought of the title, the new title, which I was uncertain and timid about and now, I know its perfect. This is What I Want to Tell You. Because, most of the time, in those late night whispered conversations with your closest friends, you would say some of it, but you almost never say out loud, to near strangers or the ones who are leaving your life This is what I want to tell you…

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