Most people speak when they’re on a video call. We were an exception. We stared at each other. We mimed. I made one silly face and as a symptom of him stifling his laughter, he farted.
We waited, wide-eyed and quiet.
Would his son wake up?
I was video calling a father who was sleeping in his son’s bed…while his son was in it, sleeping. I was video calling a husband who was days away from finding out he would be separating from his wife of 25 years. I was video calling with a future life long friend.
There seemed to be no particular reason why we hit it off as immediately and as intensely as we did. The only reason I can think of was that we effortlessly listened to each other during a time when we were carefully orchestrating every communication with our respective partners, attempting to avoid interpersonal disasters.
He is not something my eyes would typically land on voluntarily. He’s under 5’10”, has a shaved head, and scruff instead of a beard. He also has features I didn’t know could effect me this strongly: permanently mischievous brows, forever luring you into everything your parents told you to never do; a boyish grin that only shows itself after an intense moment of pleasure, imagined or real; and a snaggletooth made for making the boyish grin unforgettable.
I can tell he’s going to live with me soon. He’ll be a more prominent and endurable fixture than my Lasko industrial fan, commanding more attention with gaze alone and making far less noise.
I will sit on the floor in between his legs while he sits on my favorite chair. We’ll look at our phones together in silence. We’ll share a bed, a bath, and perhaps a portion of our morning commute. I’m starting to think about how I’m going to tell Jason. I need him to know I haven’t lost sight of us and our journey. I need him to know it has nothing to do with him; it has everything to do with my lack of courage. It has everything to do with my inability to be alone.