I had coffee the other day with my friend Dahl while he was briefly in Waterloo via his sister’s wedding in Chatham (and via, originally, Thunder Bay, where he is a graduate student studying spiritual something or other in the books of whats-his-name). Dahl and I met in university, where we had a few classes together in our first year (including one with a professor who would ask the most painfully simple questions, and then wait patiently amongst the chirps of a veritable army of crickets until a student would raise his or her hand and offer the obvious answer, at which point the professor would heap praise upon the brilliant student, and Dahl and I would chuckle quietly and derisively to ourselves in the way in which only first year students can do so), ate dinner together on Mondays in our second year (after which we would both retire to our night classes, only to inevitably sneak out at some point, and compare notes the next day to see who had lasted the longest), and lived together in our third year (during which period we also lived with his friend Craig, who had a tendency to leave the toilet seat up in the bathroom, until one day I awoke to see a piece of paper taped up next to the toilet with “PUT THE SEAT DOWN” written on it in large letters; upon questioning Dahl about the sign, I was told that he had noticed I tend to get up at around 2:00 a.m. every night to pee, and that since I was never wearing my contacts at the time, he was concerned one day I would inevitably fall victim to Craig’s inability to put the seat down and, I’m not exactly sure, fall to my death in the toilet bowl or something, all of this being at its heart a gesture that is among the most thoughtful and touching I have ever received, and in some small way maybe also the creepiest).
While we lived together, there were guitar amps everywhere and Biblical Hebrew vocabulary words in our shower, and I would occasionally wake up to find strange people sleeping on our futon. He introduced himself to everyone at our wedding as the guy I used to live with and offered no further explanation. In recent years, we occasionally talk about J.D. Salinger and compare notes about our dogs, but I have always found him to be one of those friends with whom you can go long stretches without speaking and then somehow manage to pick up just where you left off.
Anyway. We did that thing called “having coffee” even though neither of us actually had coffee — I had a chai latte and he had eggs and orange juice — and at one point I asked him if he was doing any writing lately. He responded to the question (as one does) by telling me that he is writing a cliffhanger-laden, sci-fi-thriller-serial-novel-thing called “Rex Logan, Space Viking”, about a frozen viking who wakes up in the distant future and makes his way around the galaxy having adventures (many of which involve bar fights, if I remember correctly). This is, in a word, charming. Also delightful and more than a little bit weird, adjectives which all describe my friend quite well, and which remind me that there can be found a certain joy in writing just for the sake of writing, something that I have struggled with in recent years, especially as I have been earning my living by writing about massage therapists and nanoparticles and Mac software, something I would characterize as enjoyable but not joyful. I’ve been writing more this month than I have in recent memory, and some of it is total crap that will never see the light of day, but some of it is maybe okay, maybe more than okay, but it’s definitely progress, and it was definitely fun, which I think is sometimes all you can hope for and sometimes is really exactly what you want, both writing-wise and friendship-wise.