“In response, from somewhere deep within me--below the surface of conscious expression--rises a now-familiar presence, a voice offering me all the certainties I have always wished for from another person, the words they would say to me when I am troubled. This is what I find myself writing on the blank page:
I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to cry all night, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. You can’t get rid of me. I will protect you until you die, and after your dead I will still protect you. I will cremate your body and piss on your ashes. That’s how much I love you. I am stronger than depression and I am braver than loneliness and nothing can ever exhaust me….
“Tonight, this strange voice, this strange interior feeling of Friendship—the lending of a hand from me to myself (and I …) while no one else is around to offer what the Italians call solacium … which reminds me of something that happened to me last month in New York.
“I walked into a post [office building] one afternoon in a great hurry, then dashed into a waiting elevator. As I rushed in and the steel doors silently “woooshed” closed behind me, I caught a glance of myself in the mirrored metal’s reflection. In that moment, my primitive reptile-like brain did an odd sort of thing—it fired off this split-second warning: “Hey! That bimbo is wearing a designer dress just like yours!” And so I actually ran forward toward my own reflection, ready to bitch slap that girl whose name I had forgot but whose face was so familiar.
“In an instant, of course, I realized my mistake and laughed at my almost baby-like confusion over how a mirrored surface works. That face was all Me all along! But for some strange reason that incident comes to mind again, here tonight during my sad stay in Rome, and I find myself writing a comforting reminder at the bottom of the page: “Buy Kleenex.” And below it I scribbled to myself:
Never forget that once, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as your best friend. That was that day when you looked in the mirror and saw that diamond necklace for the first time in a really good light and saw how well it went with that tiny red dress.
“That night I fell asleep holding my notebook pressed against my chest bone, page open to this, my most recent assurance of how much I could truly love. In the morning when I woke up, there were two more assurances. On the bed mattress were the impressions of the two Italian brothers, Mario and Luigi. I can still smell a faint trace of Mario‘s lingering cigar smoke, but he himself is nowhere to be seen. Somewhere during the night, they got up and left. And their investment analyst and buddy Rupesh Shingadia beat it, too. Or maybe he was taken up in The Rapture. Thank you God! He was an ugly bastard.”