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All the lights are shining

Over the Exorcist's stairs

I took you

And I took that leap

I was forced into this story

17 does not make much for full independence

And a lack of an interesting backstory

Made a future look just as hollow

I forgot your name the first time we met on campus

I was too shy to remember

When talking about our chats with Nova

I referred to you as "white"

I thank god for my therapist

I could never have made the conversations I did if my mind was still adrift

Those short bursts of confidence saved me

I still remember hiding my sweaty, jittery hands in my pockets to avoid giving away my nerves

We bonded over our distaste of politics kids, Always Sunny, and a door that leads to nowhere

I had never talked to someone who felt so comfortable in their own skin

Faking confidence is easy, to fake quirks without coming off as performative is impossible

I had never met someone so genuine

We texted in our programs

Chatted shit about our classmates

And made those three weeks something to remember

The last day felt like a lifetime was over

I never introduced you to family or friends back home

It would have made no sense to them

There was no desire to act normal with you

We could be what we are and what we want to be

I remembered a 4-hour call about god knows what

I can barely chat for more than 30 minutes with a normal person

We did that every day in the summer of 18

I felt assured in myself when my next step came, with my best friend

The time difference made calls harder to do but the texting, memes, and snap stayed alive

You made plans to fly over and visit

I was ecstatic about you meeting my new friends

If only you all got along

There had been a tension bubbling between us for a while then

My new-found confidence and your desire to live a life beyond the south-coastal malaise

Created an unholy and confusing feeling that neither of us could state

And we became irritable, anxious, and disoriented

If there was a greater mistake I made, it was that night

Pitch black in the city of lights

We changed the love

And it could never return

Those high-fives and chants of another conquest

Rang hollow in my head

Clouded by the hubris of a man that was not me

The damage had been done

You wanted to keep this love

I could not go further

I still wonder if I did it because you wanted it

Or my own desire for something real

I know my rejection after acceptance hurt you

The man I was broke through the rotten facade for just a second

I comforted the crying, humiliation, and rejection

I was tired, and you were too

London has been a tainted city since then

No amount of grime, soot, smog, or personalities can make that place anything but horrific to me

Notting Hill was our mortuary

And Hyde Park the cold, cold earth

Our paths split in the station

No more than a hug and short goodbye

Calls became less frequent

Our river of conversation ran dry

You finished your year off

On to newer, better things

I hope you never returned to the panhandle

And I hope you made better friends

I knew you

It was your greatest fault

I could forget a lot

But no late-night conversations could cover up the stains of your own shame

Witty was how I chose to go

Asking for Hulu passwords instead of a goodbye

There was another entanglement ahead of me and I hoped to set things straight

But you looked to forget everything before the end of our last conversation

I still text you

I know it won't be answered

Sometimes I check just to see if they have been seen

I'd love to know what you have been up to

Maybe, on hindsight, my idea of you has sweetened

Among the ugliness and solitude of broken promises and ulterior motives of the present

If this friendship was less than I remembered,

Then the only certainty is that that night was my original sin, my first real regret

It is a chapter that is over

A friend I will never get back

Confusing feelings brought on by vanity and a desire to escape

Created our final tragedy

Maybe someday

I will come back to Manhattan

Back to Union Square

And see my best friend, my white, and we can live a future without a foundation

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