I sat at the dining room table in a green cushioned seat. Tala cooked at the island with the stove top. The house is open so that you could have a conversation with somebody in the kitchen or the living room or the dining room or the TV room. It is conducive for gatherings. As I ate my eggs and toast at the dining room table I spoke with Tala. She is wearing a simple outfit, casual but elegant. I told her.
I think I need to go home soon.
Yeah Bubba? Ok.
I don’t want to hurt you. I love living with you but I need to be back in my own life for a while.
I began to cry as I told her she meant the world to me. She began to cry as she talked to me about finding somebody else to live with her. She doesn’t want to. I don’t want her to. She told me.
I understand Bubba. If I were more mobile I would move around like you. But I need to be in this city for a while because of my work visa.
I had always thought of us as equals but in that moment I thought of her as more mature. More patient with life. Maybe that is the definition of maturity.
She burnt the chicken she was cooking. The fire alarm went off. It does nightly. I calmly got the dishtowel from the oven handle and waved it towards the ceiling shushing the alarm. We moved on to talk about embarrassing tales. She finished the meal she would eat for the next two days for lunch. We got into her red Nissan she calls Gina, as in Vagina. We drove to New Seasons. She bought a tuna melt and some sparkling water. I bought an iced chai and some saline. We talked about friends of lovers who have gone out of their way to make us feel comfortable. We passed the exotic flowers and paid. We went back home. We watched Rupaul’s Drag Race. It was my first time. She did work on her computer and giggled at familiar bits of the episode.
Aaron called. I went upstairs to talk to him. We talked and laughed. I missed him more than I do when we don’t talk. He said,
It’s so funny that you call each other Bubba.
Because there should be a different nickname for each of you.
I didn’t understand and we moved on to talk about other things in our insignificant days. And then 45 minutes later we told each other we would talk soon. I knew we would. He called me lover and sweetie and my heart fluttered. It always surprises me, that he still has that power. And we hung up.
I went to Tala’s bedroom and got under her covers. Her bed is high off the ground. She is reading a book I have read and loved. She shared a part she loved. I said,
It’s so unfair of me to compare my relationships with this friendship. This comfort is all I want.
She put her foot over my leg as a sign of agreement. I closed my eyes and then we talked more about her day at school and her students and our dreams to do things in this life. And her boyfriend got to her house and walked up the stairs. He found us talking and laying. It was my cue to go to my own bed.
I brushed my teeth and put on my Grandpa’s old button down shirt I inherited. He was an artist. The shirt makes me feel more like one. It was raining out and I listened to the rain as Tala talked to her boy and I fell asleep.