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The stereo blasted Lenny Kravitz "Are you gonna go my way" , the warm, turbulent air of the evening came rolling into the car windows, slapping our faces with the smoke of our cigarettes.
"Hey, cheapskate, what about a car with air conditioning?" I say, teasing C at the drive
"Hey, cheapskate, what about a good walk tonight?" He retorted, smiling.
We were there, another one of our evenings, teasing each other like two old friends.
"And what do you have in your backpack? Do you have to finish your homework or something?" C asks me
"Well, to be honest it’s your homework..."
"Mine? But was it not supposed to be my gift? "C asks me, trying to hide his curiosity
"Where are we going for dinner then??" I reply, avoiding his question
"Dunno.... Meanwhile let’s go towards the lake, then choose .... There is a lot of places there ... I thought maybe pizza first, then a couple of beers at the pub on the lake and then we go looking for the ladies... "
C concluded all smiling and happy with his plan.
'The ladies?' I think .... Oh lord .... Another one of those evenings spent chatting with some random girl, completely indifferent to me, while C gets his face snogged one inch from murder.... No. .... Enough is enough.
"Listen, but what about we stop somewhere here to chat for a while? What do you think?” I propose gazing out the window to the landscape that ran away with the darkening dusk.

"And where? Don’t you know that around here there are a lot of couples who come to make out ..... You don’t want us to be mistook for .... You know ...." He hesitates, trying to retract his words in front of my embarrassment.
C knew all too well my 'social' problems and these words had literally escaped from his mouth.
"I don’t give a damn..." I say seriously, instinctively squeezing his shoulder.
This unexpected contact was tinged with an intimacy so strong and uncalled for that C dropped his cigarette. He was the embarrassed one now, and I understood why.
We had to pull over in the almost dark country road, so that he could pick up the burning cigarette butt from behind the accelerator pedal.
Without thinking twice I opened the door and grabbed my backpack.
"Come on, let's walk ... From up here you can see across the lake... "
“What the fuck are you doing? Where...” C tries to protest, but then shuts his door and starts following me, maintaining a little distance.
I walked with no idea of where I was going or how I was going to open the ‘coming out’ conversation. The occasional passing cars lit us up with their headlights, beeping their horns at us. Perhaps only to warn us to be careful walking on the road in the dark, perhaps to tease us as two perverts trying to hide, but surely making us feel even more uncomfortable than we were.
“Fuck, oh well, look, this thing is ridiculous ... Where the hell are we going in the dark?" C yells at me from behind " Let’s go back to the car, we’re gonna become someone’s roadkill in here if we are not careful!"
But then, just when I had resigned myself to abandon my strange idea, around the bend, the road was now paved and a small lonely streetlight lit the atmosphere. 

It was a small roadside space, created perhaps by many motorists who had used it as a stop to take pictures, since the night view was beautiful.
The dry-stacked stone wall was low enough to be climbed over. So, without looking back, I jumped over the wall and sat down on the grass, on the other side, with my back against the stones.
The street light made everything look surreal: a single illuminated spot in a  huge dark void, and in the distance, the lake that sparkled with lights, the headlights of cars and the gazebos of restaurants and bars lit from within.
The wind carried the sound of some occasional performer playing in the open.
It was just perfect.
Uncomfortably romantic.
"Do you really want to stop here? Are you serious?" C asks from across the wall
"Come on! Let’s have a cigarette.... I also have two beers!" I wink from the bottom of the wall, opening up my backpack to show him my bounty
"Ah! But then you planned this from the beginning!’ he grins, knowingly “ Give me five minutes, I just go get the car and park it here, so that nobody will bother us..." he concluded, vanishing on the other side of the wall.

The longest five minutes of my life. 'Oh God what now? What do I say? And if he takes it badly? And if he thinks that I tried to find a secluded place to make a move on him? Ohmygoodgod.... What the hell do I do now? I don’t want him to think that I...’ I said onto myself  standing up all of a sudden.
 I was now decided to turn back, determined to abort everything, but C was already parking the car and smiled at me from behind the wheel making the sign of 'wait a minute' with his hand. 
Then he disappeared for a couple of minutes under the dashboard, emerging triumphant with a plump joint in his hand.
"Well, I also had my programs for tonight!!! Tah-dah! Me, you, two beers and Mary Mint! Just to build some appetite."
‘I hope it’s strong stuff ' I think, crouching back against the wall. ' God knows you'll need it...'
And so we were there just chatting as always. The smoke had greatly relaxed us and now we lounged around talking about things of no importance, with no notion of time.
But C was waiting. Waiting what this whole thing was really about. 
I gulped down the last swig from the bottle, clenched my metaphorical butt and stepped forward
"This is the gift I promised you..." I blurt out,  giving him my backpack
Without looking and without speaking, C began to pull out my old school diaries he knew all too well.
A quizzical expression on his face.
"But ... Why would you give them to me? At one time you cared for your diaries, and all their secrets and mysteries...." he says C mockingly
"Because they have always belonged to you ...." I replied, the words tumbling from my mouth as if they had waited too long and now were relentless in their escape.
"Come on.... Browse through the pages.... Read...." I add quickly, lighting another cigarette.

The next hour passed almost in silence. Only the sound of some passing car on the deserted street and the soft noise of the pages turning.
The yellow light of the street lamp allowed us to see everything without difficulty.
At some point, somewhere midway between the fourth and fifth high school year, C began to read aloud what was written in a frame of leaves and flowers drawn with the pen:

When the heart falls asleep, it dreams.
Where the sand meets the sea, in an embrace of foam and salt, the last stars of the night die, like flowers crushed under the soft sandals of dawn.
Throughout the night, the body was prey to the sharp rocks, cruel waves that had fun  pushing me to the stars, and then rush me back into the dark depths of the sea.
The wind was mocking me and shouted in my ears "Let him go, let him go, he’s not yours..."
The arms have abandoned the struggle to find a hold that could save me from this disaster and have finally succumbed to the eternal movement of the currents.
The sea, quietly, pulled me under the stars for long distances, and in the travel I lost everything, even my smell.
The sea pulled me over long distances and I was thrown back in your arms.
I have come here in the hour that makes the sky turn pale, I am lifeless, defeated.
Everything lays still, the indigo of the night fades on the horizon.
Our hearts, like diamonds in the sand, like two twin stars in a galaxy of fragments, shine side by side, precious.
I no longer have poems to offer, I cannot love anymore, I have no more verses to sing to make you dream...
The sea has drowned the muses of my heart, my harp has smashed on the cruel rocks  reality, my song grows tired.
I remain here anyway, in your arms, because if there is no more light in the world for me, there still the light of your eyes, if there’s no more secret places where my head can rest, there is still your chest, if there’s no more springtime for me to sing, there’s still the eternal sweet season of your smile.
Do not let go of me yet, keep me suspended on this beach, on the edge of my soul, away from the rigors of morality and logic, far from the cruel laughter of reality. Lay here with me a while longer, to dream of shipwrecks and sirens, to sing our old songs, drinking the light wine of our love...
Stay with me and my dreams, ignoring the sun.
It will raise ruthless, throwing light on my illusions, then you will see me with different eyes, and there will be no poems to save me.
Right before your eyes I will become like sand in the sand, like sand in your arms, like sand on your skin and on your lips.
You’ll go away, away from me, away from this place that I have built with the impulses of my heart and I will disappear like sand in the sand.
One day you will go, my sweet love, taking away my last poem.
Buried in my heart the wish that, wherever life takes you, there will always be some of that sand at the bottom of your pockets, at the bottom of your heart, that sand that never goes away, which is stirred constantly, sparkling, to remind you, when you least expect it, of this beach where you held my heart in your hands.
To remind you of how much I’ve loved you. 

I will never know if it was the effect of smoking or if C had finally understood everything, but at the end of the reading, he was shocked.

I pretended not to notice, for fear of breaking some kind of limit, some secret, but I jumped up, staring at the distance.
His silence was as heavy as a sheet of lead covering the night. I was desperate for a reaction.
‘Push me off this cliff.... Call me queer... Punch me.... Anything..... But say something.... COME ON!’ I thought to myself, impatient.
Then, as welcome as candlelight to who wanders lost in the dark, C’s voice arrived to rescue me from myself:
"I never thought you loved me so much..." C began, making me swallow air between my teeth, "I did not think it was possible to love so much in silence.... I had always hoped it was all for someone who could love you as much as you deserve... You don’t know what weight you put on my shoulders..... I am ashamed .... I do not know ... "C began to say, looking at the ground, his head in his hands, looking for some word that escaped him,
"I do not know what to say ... I always thought there was something you were hiding.... I always suspected what it was and I always refused to believe it, because it was too horrible to acknowledge what you had to tackle all these years... What I put you through... I could find an excuse and tell you that I knew nothing about this.... That I was unaware of the hurt I was causing you every time you saw me with this girl or that girl.... But the truth is that I did know... Deep down I knew ... I knew that was the only thing that made sense... But I did not know all this intensity... All this beauty...”
C was visibly shaken.
"The beauty of pain" I add, still staring at the horizon, the face white-washed by fear, bathed in tears, I carried on,
"These verses belong to you, part of me belongs to you. Now you know who I am, and I'm not asking you to love me, but to accept the choice I had made to love you. And I know that, in your way, you loved me too... I can’t go on like this ... I can’t continue to lie, I need to live .... I NEED TO LIVE! " I cried, now overcome by an uncontrollable sobbing and shaking.
"I ask only two things: discretion and friendship ...." I added without looking at him
"they are the only two things I really need right now...." I said regaining control of my emotions, “and if for some reason you feel embarrassed and prefer to keep your distance from now on, I swear that I understand... In that case, keep at least the discretion... Think  about my parents....." I conclude in a detached and cold tone of voice, like a true schizophrenic.

I closed my eyes, squeezed them tight to push out the remainder of my tears and I was standing there, staring at the void, with the same horror I felt in contemplating my future, just as dark and unseizable.
It was as if nothing had happened in my life before that moment. I couldn’t focus my attention on anything else apart from the mountain of uncertainty over me.
I had got rid of a an emotional ballast, but in ripping it off me, I had also ripped off my skin, my smell and my identity.
I had to start from scratch.
I had to rebuild and start living again. Or so I thought.
Convincing myself of having to forget everything that I was to make way for 'new' Marco.
The air was still, hot and sticky and suddenly, to shake me out of my trance, arrived C’s arms from behind, to hold me tight, as he had never done before in his life.
His face on my shoulder, cheek to cheek, both staring into the empty space below.
I flared up in embarrassment.
"I am honored to have been loved so much, from someone so special..." C whispers with his lips so close to mine that it didn’t seem like language, "If you were a girl, you would have been the love of my life.... But in this life, we must be content to be best friends... And don’t believe to be the only one to think it’s a shame... Everybody dreams of this kind of love.... Lucky is the guy who has your love, so intense, so pure .... But it’s not me... And somehow I’m not happy about it.... I care for you....  I'll be there for you always and I want you to always be there for me, as you are, because you're perfect as you are.
And you're right, in my own way, I have loved you.... As I do today..."

The discomfort I was feeling made me wriggle awkwardly from his arms and in the awkward movement, his lips ended up touching the corner of my mouth.
And it was all there.... 
In this distracted, furtive, half accidental kiss.... It was all there, the purest distillation of all my years of pain.
Days spent pouring rivers of ink to fill pages with verses.
Lonely nights, peopled with dreams and desires.
Everything boiled down to that moment.
But even the dirtier pages in anybody’s history deserve to be closed and put away properly, safely, and I was not going to leave my book lying around, open, to gather the dust of doubt, fake opportunity and frustration.
I needed closure.
A half kiss wasn’t going to seal all those years of longing.
So, overwhelmed by an impulse that was born more out of desperation and desire, I grabbed C’s face, and kissed him. He was so surprised by my actio that he did not struggle. Or perhaps he didn’t want to. 

I kissed him like he was the last kiss on earth. As it was a goodbye kiss. As I was kissing away the last bit of my old self.
 I kissed him holding his face in my hands... That face as familiar as my own.... 
I kissed him with my eyes closed, preparing myself for the worst, suspended in an interminable moment.

But when I opened them, C was looking at me, puzzled.
Then, shaking his head, he said with a smile
"You have guts, I give you that... Let's go to dinner...."and offered me his hand to climb over the wall.
“Now where am I to find a girl like you?” he taunted me
“I’m no girl...” I replied blushing
“Well, that’s the real problem...” he smiled.
We've never spoken about it afterwards, but from that night on,  I was no longer the same person. I was set free. 
I was swimming in the warm waters of acceptance.
‘Go and be yourself, I will always be by your side, loving you for who you are’. 
And I owe everything to him.
I was thrown in the void by the kiss of another boy.
I was rescued back to vibrant life by the kiss of my straight best friend. He was the shoreline I was desperately looking for. 
And it wasn’t lust, it had never been.
It was, more simply, love that wrapped his arms around us both that night and allowed us to transform years of pain into something special we both could carry inside for the rest of our lives.
C is still my best friend and I'll probably end up designing his fiancée's wedding dress.
She asked me for it.


paroleperaria said...

Questo post è stupendo e mi ha commosso da morire.
Mi ha ricordato di quando a quindici anni, superando non so come la mia timidezza, ho rivelato al mio migliore amico che ero innamorata di lui.
Eravamo al buio sulle scale (location molto meno romantica della tua) e non mi ha baciata come nei miei sogni, ma è rimasto zitto a guardarmi per qualche minuto (in cui io penso di avere assunto tutte le colorazioni dal viola all'arancione) e poi mi ha abbracciata strettissima per un sacco di tempo e mi ha detto che per lui ero la sua migliore amica e che era innamorato di un'altra!!!
Mi sono tolta un peso, ma... che botta, l'altra era pure una mia amica!!! Però anche noi siamo ancora amici. :)