The International Writers
Subhash began regaling
Andy with plans for the trip that he and I would take when were
thirty. "Were leaving the wives in Sydney or Melbourne and
renting an old Army Jeep, and just going, heading into the outback, Midnight
Oil blasting on the stereo, seeing Ayers Rock, the desert, maybe
going all the way to the wilds of the west coast."
Eric D Lehman
ten years ago, I went to Monks Café in Philadelphia
for a few drinks. My friend Subhash and my brother Andy joined
me, taking a break from their lives as medical student slaves.
We all ordered mussels, each bowl steamed in a unique sauce. The
tabletop looked like a sickening fishy mess, but raw hunger outweighed
any aesthetic distaste. The uncomfortable wooden tables and benches
drove home the feeling of an old world pub, spurring conversation
"Weve planned this since high school."
"Why?" Andy repeated.
I broke in. "Its a dream. A dream were going to turn
"Like when were forty and were going to meet at Mad King
Ludwigs castle in Germany." Subhash continued. "Well
plan it so we go to Germany separately and then set a time to meet at
the top of that fairytale tower."
"Sounds like you guys are old lovers or something." Andy rolled
"Just dreamers, dude."
"Where else do you want to go?"
"I want to visit every place in the world." I asserted, chiming
my fork on a mussel bowl. "Everywhere."
"That would take more than your lifetime."
"Yeah, why bother?"
"True," I admitted. Still, I hate being trapped here, dreaming
our brown alehouse dreams. "I just want to live in different places,
work at different jobs, do enough to
I dont know." Suddenly
the smell of beer and fish gagged me and I went to the bathroom, choking
back an urge to vomit. What was wrong with me? Everyone has a hundred
nights like this one in their lifetime, when dreams take over the present
like a pack of starving wolves. The world opened before us, but at the
same time seemed too vast to conquer. The hopes of travel seemed tainted
with some sort of bitterness, though perhaps that was just the ale.
On my return the waitress appeared at the tableside, asking if wed
like another drink.
"Yes please. Three Chimays."
The waitress nodded and took our plundered mussel bowls.
"We all need to go to the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville sometime."
"Keep talking about it, but we never go."
"We will. We will." I repeated. "My wanderlust is too strong
"My wanderlust is steering me towards those girls in the corner."
Subhash nodded. Andy and I laughed.
My brother and I did go to Yuengling the next year, a small victory of
hope over reality. Subhash and I even went to London for the Millennium
celebration. But as age thirty passed we never made it to Australia. My
dream of seeing every place in the world gets more ridiculous every year.
Our lives have become more complicated, friendships have diverged, and
the most to hope for is a weekend in Vermont or a week on Cape Cod. Still,
what is wrong with that? Were those dreams that we harbored mere ego?
Should I be upset about their loss? Would it have been better never to
dream at all?
The waitress appeared one last time. "Anything else?"
"Just the check, thanks."
We headed out the door into the lamppost air, cars splashing black rain
onto our jackets. The shops and rowhomes slipped past in a misty haze
of midnight fog. Finally, our inevitable goodbyes came at thirteenth street.
Subhashs black eyes bored into mine as he shook my hand firmly and
said, "someday." He nodded his thick, black hair. I nodded,
as well, thinking how sad it was that so much of our friendship was in
the past, or in the future. I tried to find some phrase that would make
that parting meaningful, but lacked the skill. Subhash walked away and
I grimaced. If only we could perform surgery on words. Take the word TIME
and cut the M in two. Pick away at the T until we have molecules of sound.
The E would be more difficult, perhaps a chest spreader, a circular saw.
Leaving only the spine of the I.
Andy and I reached his brick townhouse, where I silently poured myself
water and collapsed on the living room couch. Andy creaked up the stairs,
calling "Nighty night."
"Dont let the bedbugs bite," I murmured, staring around
at the bare room. Sipping the glass of water, I wondered why we make all
these little plans, hoard all these precious hopes and memories, why we
try to verbalize what cannot be. Perhaps the best thing to do is not to
think at all. Bury the yearbooks, memories, and old ideas. Find the places
where the borders melt, where the map ends and the sea monsters begin,
to live on that planet yet undiscovered. And then, if Subhash and I ever
meet at the top of Mad King Ludwigs castle, it will be a pleasant
© Eric D. Lehman March 2007
Author and Senior Tutor at Bridport University USA
the Grave of the Roosevelts
Eric D Lehman
Fungus of Friendship
Eric D Lehman
has ruined many frendships...
for a rainy day
Eric D Lehman at The Clark Museum - Williams College
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