just like starting over.


dude showed up and slapped hands with me. if he thought it was strange at all that i had asked him and his girlfriend to have dinner with me, he didn't show it. he had on his bus driver uniform, and then we ordered some beers. we got to talking politics, since he's part of the international socialist organization or something. he asked if i was socialist. i probably am, but i told him i wasn't, and that i didn't really know anything about socialism. i once read that jesus was a socialist, and if that's true, then i probably understand socialism better than i think i do.

he asked me what my politics were, and i told him i didn't really keep up on them as much as i did in college. i just don't see the point anymore, but i didn't tell him that. i told him i voted for nader, and then he high-fived me because he did, too. i told him i did so because i couldn't get behind obama's perpetuating the war in afghanistan rhetoric, and i couldn't support any candidate who thought increasing troops in a country we know nothing about would ever be a good idea. he nodded, and then we drank our beer.

his girlfriend showed up, and she seemed kind of huffy. she poked fun at him for always wanting to go to bed early, and he didn't try to argue or anything. it felt like i was watching an old version of my previous relationship. it was a strange thing, to have been broken up, to see close friends break up, and then to see this current relationship: the strong, assertive woman and her passive, low-key boyfriend. we ordered our food. i got the dungeon burger, and vegetarians that they were, they ordered tofu burritos.

we got to talking about the past. i told them about americorps, about sacramento, and he talked about the suburb outside of cleveland, oberlin, working at ups. the girl's story was about the northeast, delaware to be exact, how she studied neuroscience but had no plans for graduate school. it was a real good thing, to have people to talk to. people who didn't have to put on a show or act sarcastically or pretend they were something more than they actually were. i thought back to my seattle works group, how they were all older, more professional, better able to act like they knew what they were doing in life. all i needed, i realized, was some people my age who were in the same boat, just trying to figure things out.

he asked me if i had roommates and i told him no, but that recently, i was wishing that i did. he said that he'd never done it, and that it would probably be awesome to live alone. i told him that it was at first, but now i was wishing i had roommates. he said that sometimes he wished that he and his girlfriend lived in a house with other people and she said that she sometimes wished that, too. i thought about the lonely american and the idea of cocooning. it's not good to cocoon when you're a couple. you need an active social life and friends of your own. i didn't know those things when i was 22. now i am alone.

toward the end of dinner, his brother showed up, and he was going on and on about some dojo he had visited. the brother said that he was going to drive up from olympia every week to go to the dojo, but his brother told him it was a stupid idea. he reasoned that it would be a lot of money wasted on gas, so the membership, which seemed like a deal, wouldn't even be worth it. the brother was really intense, and i felt like he was putting on a show, but maybe that was just how he was. there were awkward silences when the brother was there, and then once he broke it by making karate sound effects.

the girl said she had to go pee, so it was just us three boys. somehow, we were talking about the game, the pickup artist shit my friend from new york is into, and then the brother said that someone should write the end game, a guide to breaking up with someone smoothly. he then went into his divorce, and he played it off like it wasn't a big deal. he said it was the easiest thing ever. he said that his then wife sat him down and told him that it wasn't working anymore, and to that, he just said, okay. and then when she went off and had sex with a girl, he also just said, okay.

his brother said that he was lying, that he wasn't okay with the divorce. he said that he was pretty upset about it for a while. and then he turned to me and he told me that his brother was with this girl for ten years before they got divorced. i just said, oh. and then he said out loud, i don't even know what i'd do if she and i broke up (she was still in the bathroom at that point), i think that i would just give up. i wanted to tell him, yeah, i have given up. look at me, this is what it looks like. and then he said, there's just so much that goes into a relationship. i can't imagine starting over.

i can't imagine it, either.

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