Family by choice

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So, I was digging through my computer tonight, and I found this little piece written by a fantastic friend I’ve had for … good lord, 16 years. I’m not sure if she still reads my blog, but this cross-posts to Facebook, and I know she’s over there.

Way back a ways, when I was in college, I found myself working in a coffee shop. I don’t even remember how I got the job… I’m pretty sure it had some kind of informal beginning, with me being in the coffee shop at the precise moment that someone didn’t show up to work, and poof, I was behind the bar, pouring coffee. It was a fine arrangement for me, seeing as I was coming off a bad relationship and this gave me a new place to hide, new people to talk to. The shop itself tried hard to be artistic, with all wood floors, stained glass windows, lots of nooks and books and games, and plenty of furniture and jewelry on consignment. But despite the efforts of the owners to attract what they had hoped would be a more highbrow, intelligent crowd of college students and young writers, mostly they got high school kids taking advantage of the fact that the place allowed smoking, a few of the local crazies, and other various outcasts, loners and people trying to find themselves. And so, several nights a week, I’d find myself seated on a stool behind the bar, serving the occasional coffee or cookie, reading a book, getting paid for being bored.

From my spot behind the bar, there was a door to my right that led down a long hallway to stairs leading down to the main entrance on the street, and on one particular day, I heard that downstairs door fly open. Lots of heavy, purposeful walking followed, and I swear, I could feel the energy of some terribly intense person making his way down the hall. Then through the doorway burst this skinny guy with a huge grin on his face. I don’t remember what he was wearing, and I don’t remember exactly what he said to me. I only remember that he had these crazy brownish yellow contacts in, and that within moments he had pulled up a stool in front of me, made a brief introduction, and then produced an issue of “International Male”, walking me through the spandex and fishnet laden pages, showing me his favorite designs. I obliged, was polite, and thought the whole thing amusing. And as quick as he had arrived, he was gone.

But then it happened again. And again. Every day a variation on the above mentioned encounter. And being stuck behind the bar, with a set work schedule, I couldn’t get away from him. He knew where and when to find me. He had a quick wit, a sharp tongue, and a sense of humor that never failed to make me laugh, both at him and at myself. Soon, that slam of the front door was followed by a salutation of “HEY BREEDER!!!” And somehow, I wasn’t offended. There was simply no place to run. This crazy gay guy loved me, and was determined that we would be friends.

Over time, a short time, we did become friends. I learned that his overt homosexuality was a by-product of being “outed” by assholes at his school, which led him to do quite the conga right out of the closet. He learned that I was a sad person in need of some laughing. We spent days playing cards on the porch, nights out at the gay bars or doing a little porch diving into snow drifts. There was the introduction of friends, the comforts after failed relationships, and I even got to pin his boutonniere on his lapel and stand next to him during his first wedding. But then, as I do from time to time, I moved far, far away.

And you know what that little shit did? He e-mailed one of my new professors at graduate school and told him to take care of me, since he couldn’t anymore. It’s a whole other story, but I can say that I felt loved from over a thousand miles away.

I haven’t seen him in years. He’s moved and moved again, and the miles still stand between us. But we live our lives, we e-mail, we catch up. He’s never far from my thoughts, he’s still very much loved and missed, and one of the best friends I have. And we’ll see each other again someday, have a few drinks, and maybe, if I have the time and can find one, I’ll bring him a copy of “International Male”, and see how the years have changed his tastes.

I love you, too, Breeder, and I miss you a ridiculous amount. Much love, big hugs.


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