I use that phrase a lot. “… in conversation.” Seems like I’m always talking to somebody, usually several somebodies, in my head. I carry people around in my mind because they’re not next to me. I’ve always done this, thinking back to being a little, I can remember never really feeling alone. I was always in conversation with the people that cared about me. My grandparents, my little aunts, my parents, friends.
And then as I got older, with characters in books and movies, older still, the authors of those books, the makers of the movies, the thinkers that came up with theories, the generators of grand schemes of understanding. It’s all a conversation. But I have to know you, or the subject, or the book, for the conversations to occur.
I’m at UCLA right now, waiting for Nik to get out of class. If I went to this school, I’d never make it to class. I’d be at the beach all the time, everyday, as much as possible. It’s not as much of a temptation for Nik- she can’t swim and hates being cold. She’s in the final quarter of her second year of her MFA in film. The library is comfy, UCLA is a really beautiful campus. Makes me miss Cal. Being with Nik makes me miss Cal. Especially the home we made out of a shared hallway.
As I made us dinner the first night, and got her thoroughly drunk on Whaler’s Rum and passionfruit juice, she kept saying, “Don’t leave!” I said, “I just got here!” To which she slurred, “Yes you did… now stay.” I hushed her with a big steaming bowl of brown rice and veggies. Since she moved for school we’ve seen each other about twice a year. This is the first time I’ve come down. I needed to get out of town for a minute. I don’t get to travel that often. Her son is so big now, and he was so mad at me for not bringing the boys.
Nik is someone I’m in conversation with a lot in my head. I don’t want to say that though we don’t see each other enough at all, when we get together it’s like no time has passed. It’s not true. Time has passed. The Nik that lives in my head needs to be updated to the Nik I am spending time with now. She is now the mother of a 6 year old, not a 4 year old. She is two years into her program and that much closer to her dream career. I’ll describe it like this, not being in her physical presence does not diminish how much I care about her, nor how important she is to me.
And I don’t expect her to stay the same. When we get together I want to see how she has changed. The time between visits feels rich, feels thick and full and has a weight. It’s not empty or vacuous mostly because she lives in my head with me, helping to make decisions and calling me on my shit in the way that only she does. And I know it’s reciprocal because she remembers things that I said years and years ago with ridiculous clarity. As if the words still have use for her. As if they’re close in her mind for quick recall. I like living in her mind too.
She’s trying to convince me to apply to a PhD at UCLA, but I don’t see LA as fitting in my personal ecology. It’s a great place to visit, but I’m pretty the Bay is where I should be. But I like that she’s trying. It’s not enough to have a head full of friends. There is something about looking that voice in the eye, sharing the same bed, breathing in their breath, the physical grounding of an emotional/mental/spiritual connection.
There’s a U2 lyric…”You’re in my mind, all of the time, I know that’s not enough…” from the song Electrical Storm. Having kinetic exchanges with a kindred spirit is really satisfying. I’m feeling it would be nice to have that on a more frequent basis again.
I feel recharged. I feel ready to finish the Spring semester strong. To write all these goddamned papers and start planning for the summer. It’s good to get out of my head for a moment, if only to give me a break before I jump right back in.