Ode to O'Brien

Four-thirty in the morning and he is lost in East New York. That is what he gets for driving high on drugs all the way from Boston. I hold off on telling him that he is in the most dangerous neighborhood out of all the five boroughs and that its murder rate is climbing. I hold off for about a minute and then I break it to him. This will be fun. Seriously, he just needs to head west on Atlantic Avenue. Can you find Atlantic Avenue? I ask him this from the comfort of my couch in lovely Carroll Gardens. I am eating expensive fruit and wearing sweatpants. 

Sylvie, I have drugs in my car.
It’s fine. I’m sure the guy driving behind you has drugs in his car as well. He laughs.

He laughs but he was supposed to be at my apartment by ten o’clock. I stayed in to wait for him. It had been almost a year since seeing him last. One of my best friends from college. Influential in many senses of the word but a real pain in the ass for so many reasons. He does not like to take my advice and so his life is now more his own than ever before. It took a while but I do not feel a responsibility anymore to help him navigate towards a better life aside from

Did you hit Atlantic yet?
Oh, yeah, I’m on it.
Good. Stay on it.

Having listened to my super difficult directions, he finally makes it to my apartment. He rings the downstairs buzzer knowing that I have roommates. I sprint to the kitchen and buzz him in, sprint back to the front door and unlock it. His footsteps are heavy - hearing them gets me all happy though despite how exhausted / angry I am. He is carrying a faded yellow plastic Stop&Shop bag that I am to assume holds not clothes or toiletries but a few Cd’s, a leftover bag of Doritos from the car and, oh, deodorant. Of course. How he believes one can keep clean. He bends down to hug me. Way to get lost in East New York, I say. The story is a good one though, he promises.

As promised, there is a story. The content is not important because it is just another stupid, crazy story that I have heard countless versions of over the years. I am sitting Indian-style on my bed watching his trip finish. The sun is coming up. I am absolutely ready for a paper cup of coffee and only a little bit ready to endure his presence this time around. 

It is a sad thing but a tiny bit beautiful.