“How’s the writing?” he asked me, yesterday, as a matter of fact.
As a matter of fact, he was so matter of fact about it, I didn’t think twice that, like to most of my friends, to him, my writing — was just a matter of fact.
As a matter of fact, I am not flocked by my comrades — other writers — all suspended in loaded pauses in between pontificating on the history of the novel or the future of the industry. We don’t sit around a round table (yes, it must be round) in the middle of the night, playing with nostalgic shticks, like card games, cigars or tea cups with saucers — because we are just so fucking eccentric.
We don’t make fun of humanity while others zealously nod or slap their thighs in a gesture of agreeing laughter; but then, take ourself so very brutally seriously. (Seriously?!). Many of us have gone through love affairs; several — quite tumultuous. But we don’t arrive to coffee shops favored by Europeans while accompanied by mysterious lovers (in scarves or berets) that have inspired a poem or two — a sketch or a lovely line-up of guitar chords — making the rest of us want a piece of that creature. We don’t share lovers, passing them around like a well-rolled joint. And: we don’t dis the exes.
My people and I are a lot more matter of fact, in life. Sure, some of us are stranger than others, worthy to be gossiped about. And yes, we tend to be adventurous, always up for playing, always on the lookout for a good story. Many travel, quite often treating LA-LA as a rest stop, even though we all live around here. Quite a few are in the midst of an art project that will change their lives upon fruition. But we don’t spend our daily lives in some sort of artistic isolation or exhibitionist suffering; slamming down phones and doors if ever we are interrupted. We don’t keep lists of our losses and griefs against humanity — or against our mothers — posted up on the wall, framed.
My people and I: We live, as a matter of fact.
And especially, when it comes to my brothers: They are the simpler of my clan. Rarely do I double-guess their intentions. Never do I wonder about their moods and the words with which they choose to communicate them. Never do I decipher their facial ticks, eventually finding myself in despair, impatience, followed by frustrated judgment. And it’s always quite clear with them that even though they don’t obsessively seek my company; when in my company, nothing seems to thrill them more. (Now, I’ve heard about those moody mothafuckers that torture my girlfriends with their mixed signals and facial ticks in dire need of deciphering. But no such mothafucker — is a brother of mine!)
So, when my baby-brother asked me about writing yesterday, I gave him an answer specific enough to be respectful of him and of the time that had lapsed since last we saw each other; and respectful enough to not sound flippant about my work. (Because my work — I take seriously, not my self. Seriously.) But then, a discussion of our lives, happening as a matter of fact, continued, letting my work be — just a matter of fact.
Later, however, I found myself picking apart the category of men that become my brothers. I am normally quite hard on their gender, especially toward the ones that end up as my lovers. But with my brothers, I never feel the urge to break their balls or to demand explanations; constantly digging for more honesty (but not realizing that no love can handle that much truth). As a matter of fact, everything is quite clear with my brothers and I, and I am never tempted to ask for more clarity. So: I let their mysteries be.
This one — a beautiful child — used to be a colleague of mine. Both of us had worked at a joint that was meant to pay for our dreams while costing them the least amount of compromise. And I would be full of shit if I claimed I was never titillated by his loveliness, measuring it against my body in his tall embraces or against my chest as I would rub his head full of gorgeous Mediterranean hair. I would watch him with others — with other women — and notice the goodness of him. He was respected, always: the type of a man worthy of man crushes from his brothers and dreamy sighs from every girl in the room. His charm would come easily. Never strained, it seemed to cost him nothing. And it’s because that charm came from his goodness — it never reeked of manipulation or his desperate need to be liked.
Here, as a matter of fact, I would be lying if I didn’t think at one point or another about all of my brothers as potential lovers. But somewhere along the way of building the history of intimacy, something would tilt the scale: and we would make a choice to leave our love untamed by so much honesty — it wouldn’t survive the truth.
That something — would take a bit effort to define yesterday, after my rendezvous with my baby-brother expired and we parted, as a matter of fact, never fishing for assurances that we would see each other again soon (because we would). And it would all come down to: Goodness.
Even if not with me, my brothers — are committed to their goodness. Because of their commitment, that goodness happens with ease — as a matter of fact — and it earns them good lives and worthy loves. It earns them — my love, as a matter of fact.