“So hey, um, thanks for being part of, I don’t know, the whole trip,” I said, groping for appropriate words. “You mattered, you know? You mattered big.”
“My pleasure,” he replied, strangely comfortable with the nearness of death. “And thank you, too, and Jon—you keep a good thought, will you?”
“Will do,” I said, nodding, manically wondering what to say when you part ways the last time, finally saying without thinking, “Take it slow, Jerry.” Eye contact. “You take it slow.”
Michigan. It’s always so good and fucked up. Childhood. Family. Old friends. Cancer.
But tomorrow morning I will get on a train and go to the Art Institute of Chicago with a beautiful woman to see a Magritte exhibit and we’ll find secret places to hide and make out because being alive is no less beautiful for all its pain and suffering and lack of coherence.
People get cancer. Planes crash. We're all going to die. But this is not a life. This is not a life. This is not a life.
There are lines of poetry everywhere and songs to sing in the car and Magritte exhibits that display, among others, a painting of The Lovers (1928), two people with cloaked heads, unknown to each other, blind, ignorant, and yet—and yet—kissing with surreal abandon.
Beauty wins, death. May kissing trump despair.