Thursday, April 6, 2017


My favorite high school senior came to see me this evening.

“Still a lot on my plate,” he reported
And I was ready to find yet another way to tell him how not to be anxious about college
How he will
in fact
kill it six ways this way and back
Not that he would have believed me

The fates had other ideas for my amusement—
The glorification of my very vocational satisfaction this evening

with his characteristic sweetness, openness, and self-effacement
disclosed how he’d become enmeshed in a 
banal but not mundane
family drama
that predates him by approximately 50 years

How he started asking too many questions from his place of sincerity
How he was subsequently appropriated by no fewer than three septuagenarian matriarchs for matters of 
                                the most complicit
the most petty
the most juvenile
and absolutely the most unremarkable
of intrigue
In a dynamic my favorite theorists
The Bowenians
Refer to as ‘Triangulation’
The Girardians
‘Mimetic Desire’

And I 
in my ravenous, unquenchable, morbid creepishness
just call

“Well, buddy”
My eyes glistening
possibly gleaming some autumnal overtone
Inhaling slowly with enchantment
“It’s like this…” I say, hopefully concealing the salivation

“You ever had a falling out with a friend?” I ask
Never being more certain of an answer I’ve yet to hear

“Yes I have!” he answers
(And you’ve never heard an exclamation point more resonant or genuine)
“It was over…”

Say ‘a girl’*
Say ‘a girl’

“…a girl.”
(*his orientation had long ago been 
established in our conversations)

I exhale calmly
with unnameable glee

There’s no way he won’t get this

but also with wistfulness
There may be no going back for him after I let him in on this

And so we lay it out
How people 
loved ones, no less
take on commodity and stock values over which to be shuffled
often directly commensurate to our insecurities
How we learn and assign those values 
relates to having absolutely no spontaneous originality**
in this life
like, at all
(**which is especially hard for him
because he’s a brilliant jazz musician in his own right)

How adults in families
usually aren’t adults with each other
(luckily, he was already starting to catch on)
 How we draw people in
over to our lunch tables
Because we all know these bullets have our names on them
And they’re too much to dodge on our own

“Did you by any chance become friends with that guy again?” I ask with the most earnest of  


“What a gift!” I say
Out of both sides of my mouth like an asshole does
He fully confirming (through some probing on my part)
what I already knew:
They achieved this through (at least temporary)
marvelous, mutual, miraculous
That that girl was no good after all

But where would their bromance be without her?

And after having him boil down exactly the reasons why
      he wants to say what he wants to say to his grandma

He is appropriately overwhelmed
Muttering the words ‘complicated’
As I’m sure he never has

I suppose my work might be done

But to his honest question
rooted in his honest compassion for a brood of kinfolk
with whom on most days he knows not what to do
What the hell do I do with this?
I have an honest answer

With the conviction and the caveats I was given in youth group,
long before I went to psychotherapy, social justice, or divinity camp
          I give to him:

1) These things think us before we can think them
Before we have any option to give fuck #1

2) Just because we understand gravity
Doesn’t mean we can fly
(evidenced by my multiple internal contusions and fractures
after recently trying to traverse a canyon)

But again I say
Especially in these days when I can't quite do or believe it myself
Even as he flails down that ravine as I recently have
Even as his internal, naturally selected wiring compels him to that lunch table
before he says something a bit passive-aggressive to his grandma
(His grandma!)

What exactly that looks like for him
is a conviction he has to arrive at on his own
But I trust him to give it his best
I’ve got some ideas if he comes up short

And I’ll be here

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