chandelier of bones.


i walked into the bakery, and he was already in there. he was standing in line, and he held a yellow thermos. we greeted each other with the bro half-hug thing. he asked if i had a usual drink, and i said i didn't. i looked at the mini-fridge and said i would go with a pink juice. i said i'd probably also get a cookie. he rang up his coffee, and then he asked if he could get me anything. i said no, not to worry about it. he finished ordering.

after i bought my juice and cookie, i asked if we should sit by the mini-fridge. he pointed to a table by the window and he said that his stuff was over there. there was a coat on the back of his chair and a knapsack resting against the base. i sat down and started on my cookie. he asked how i've been. and i said good, but i wasn't good. i'd been up since 5 in the morning and my eyes were all fogged over. i've been worrying about diabetes, glaucoma, going blind.

i asked if he went home for christmas, and i thought home was ohio. he corrected me. it was michigan. close enough, he said. he said he was there for ten days, and it was good. he asked me how my trip to the philippines was. i said it was good. i didn't know what else to say, so i told him about boracay and hong kong. i said that the kids in hong kong dressed well, and that their transportation system was efficient.

i don't like talking, so i asked about his summer trip to europe. he said he had a blast. he visited friends, ex-pats living in berlin. and then he hitchhiked with his friend to prague and they slept in the bushes. he wanted to see an ossuary in a little town outside prague where there was a chandelier of bones, and so that's where they went. he said his friend was an artist and lived in an artists' collective in berlin. they made art all day long, and just got by, he said.

he kept talking about what it meant now for him to be an adult. a responsible adult with a career in mind, and the same boring stability he might one day be able to offer his children, the way his parents had done for him. he said he'd like to make a down payment on a house some day. he said that for christmas, he told his parents he wanted nice clothes, and that he didn't want to look like a dirty hippie anymore. his parents were thrilled. i looked at his pants, and i commented that there were no longer holes in them.

he justified it. he said that was the way the world worked, right? if he wanted to be successful, he had to look the part. it was time to stop being a child, wandering around, making art, making noise, and it was time to just grow up and be responsible. hence the new clothes, his desire to go to architecture school, his goal of owning his own home. the way he spoke was the same, but his values significantly shifted from when i knew him five years ago. the talk became serious, and i wanted to lighten it up, maybe call him a sellout, but he was right. we were grownups now.

he asked if i was seeing anyone. i told him that these days, i'd be happy just to get a number. i told him that in the philippines, everyone kept asking if i had a girlfriend, and wasn't it okay to just be single for a while? i told him how single men in the philippines were frowned upon. that, if a man was single for too long in that country, others would suspect him of being a homosexual, a bading, or else a dirty old man. but that could just be the way i perceived the way they thought.

we didn't have much else to say. it was clear to both of us that catching up was nice and all, but we were both eager to just get the future on with already. the whole thing about being in your twenties and going to bars and working unrewarding jobs was just - well, we were over it already.

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