I know you care. It’s all over your face.
Do you think I was born yesterday?
I know you. You’re my friend. Remember?
Knock, knock. I know you care.
I know you’re doing this for the ‘right’ reasons.
I know you believe fully, in the ’cause’.
I’m here frying rice, making lunch as if it was yesterday, my heart skipping beats,
Yearning to break bread with you, trying to find a way to you – to say
“This is the wrong cause.”
We are on opposite sides of history now.
My friends and I. Not all, but enough to pain me every time I think on it.
You say things that make me realize that you think I’ve been somehow duped by right wing fascists.
I think I give you more credit than that, and I try my level best not to take offense. Not to remind you of every bloody moment of truth we had together in the Great Before.
When we showed each other exactly who we were. And never distrusted like this.
I’m not trying to be right but damn it if it seems I’m the only one who remembers.
It’s the cheap shot, my friend, that stings the most.
So we eat this awkward lunch. You even compliment my cooking, while all the while an eye at me as if I were the one on the cusp of betrayal. But I don’t trust you, my friend. I think you’re selling out all over the place.
You want to teach me a lesson but instead you quote obscure philosophers on topics of social harmony and civic duty. O altruism. I think the point is that I care less about such things than you. Except that I now you don’t actually believe that. To me it seems like someone else is telling you so.
My friend, it is not easy to express what I want and need to say to you. Hurting you is the last thing I would ever want to do. You are good. I know that. I don’t anyone to explain you to me.
But it saddens me that you have forgotten who I am.
Over the main course we discuss many things, but none of them are the things we’re thinking of. You look at me as if I’m wrong. I wonder, am I looking at you like that?
By dessert, things are less sweet than I would have hoped. You have by now mentioned several philosophers, all of which I suspect you think I quietly despise. You end with something about how you pride yourself on being able to tolerate even those on the “far right”.
I reply that I don’t know any such people. You look at me, stunned.
Where are we, I wonder?
The field of Rumi comes to mind, you know, the one beyond knowing and not knowing or something. Didn’t we share that once one night when I came to you when you were tired and hurt?
This is certainly not the field we’re in now while the coffee brews.
I’m sorry, my friend. I don’t believe in your Great Mission. It never spoke to me except as a twisted lie. You think we’re fighting a war between those who care and those who don’t. But you’re wrong.
We all care. The enemy is the one dividing us, chess gaming us out against each other. The binary.
Do you honestly believe that I woke up one morning not caring about the world. What is wrong with you?
You care, just as much as I.
I’ll pour the coffee while you check your watch, and I say the only thing on my mind.
“No matter what happens, we should not forget who we are”
“I don’t know what you mean,” you say.
And I know that you are sincere.
You want me to spell it out.
You want me to tell you face to face that I think you are fighting the wrong fight, that your beauty and intelligence and compassion is being used against you,
In the wrong and so well-intentioned fight.
You think I abandoned you. I didn’t. I never left you. Not for a moment.
There is a crowd of people walking towards a cliff edge. There is a carrion cry of “onward march!” and everyone feels so wonderfully part of the same righteous story. Until….
I am in accord with your passion just not with your direction.
I want to take you back, by the hand, I want to show you that room where we talked like we owned the future. Before we bought into any of it. Don’t you remember? Before we got religious, before we got cynical, before we got full of idea fit to bursting. We had one truth, we had one single thing we could agree on. That each of us mattered. That each of our odd, and singular and right-angled light, was worth the skin it was printed on. We, at least we, in our lop-sided tribe could accept one another in all our odd and funny ways. Accept me now, my brother, my sister. This is what I want to say
That I believe as much as you in solidarity, in altruism and sacrifice for the greater good, which is exactly why I’m saying and doing what I am but….
But I don’t say that. Because I love you too much. So I just say,
“Hey. Let’s not forget who we are, no matter what.”
And you look at me over the rim of your cup and nod.
You pick up your coat and say something about somebody waiting and I want to hold you. Suddenly, I want to take you in my arms and hold you close. It’s protective. And I’m sorry for that, but it is. I worry for you so so much and you hate me for that, I know.
So I hand you your coat and you take it and tell me we’ll do this again sometime but something in me says no, we probably won’t, not yet, not yet.
We ate together, I can’t deny it, but we didn’t break bread.
Not yet. Not yet.