There is something just to proximity, to having known a person by constant conversations, to loving his words and the realizations behind it, the cheerful voice that comes out of him, the efforts he makes to be amusing, and then, too, something to having been awhile– let’s say, a week or two, a day, an hour, the time in which you were removed, briefly free of him, even– and to coming back into places you had been before and finding him still there, unchanged, the same as he was when you last checked on him, left him.

But there is something to this, to finding that you cannot possibly fill in what he was in your absence and, whatever your way of feeding and fishing, your words still mean nothing to him. That whatever subtlety or frankness your concern take, you cannot still imagine him as having been anything at all, even just making the most of his unexpected dependence on you, his forced submission to people he knew nothing deep. Something about this is bound to overcome you.

This happened to me many times when I brought someone to places. It swayed me. It had been easy enough to go away, to sit in a beer house or in a park and hate him for an hour or for the rest of my life, but being again in his proximity, seeing the way he laughed at my jokes as he planted another cigarette in his mouth– a thing as minor as that– made hating him, even for a second, feel like a crime. Watching him as he smoked, I decided not to tell him about everything else. I decided not to go to my other appointments, to stay an hour with new friends in another beer house. I’d cancel two or three interesting meetings.

These things happened many times. And after many times, just this morning, finally, I wakened this love with a fingernail scratch.

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