Do you remember the days when I lived in this apartment before? The seven years in the nineties that this was my address? I was dating Keith, and then Dale, and then Lewis. And my friends were Jill, and Alan, and Kelly, and Cagney, and James, and Jim. Toward the end of the seven-year-stay, when I had broken up with Keith and had much more time on my hands, I started hanging out in James' apartment downstairs, watching M*A*S*H, and smoking pot and talking with James, and Jim, and Chris Corno, and Big Paul, and Christopher, and Carrie, and Laura. And Christopher was almost always there, since he liked the company, and the pot-smoking. And I was fond of him as well, since he was Myrtle-my-landlady's grandson, and so knew more about her than I did, and because he was charming and friendly and like a big puppy-dog in his willingness to please and to be pleased. And because he talked very frankly about things like pot-smoking, which was always something I wasn't so familiar with, and I liked having his outlook laid open for me.
I remember one night, in James' apartment, when Chris and I had been seeing a lot of each other -- always in the group that contained at least James and Jim, and usually several others, one of whom was usually sleeping with Christopher -- and James and Jim were in the kitchen. I was sitting on the couch, watching something, and Christopher came in from the kitchen and threw himself at my feet. He was mildly intoxicated, and very up. Clasping my knees in his arms, he poured out a beautiful and poetic picture of what our life would be like if only I would marry him, how happy we would be to wake up together, how happy we would be to go to bed together, how happy our life would be to look up and see each other across the house we would so happily be sharing. "I would give you flowers," he said, "And my time, and me!"
Though amused and flattered, I was also embarrassed, and had to flee, and our interactions were flirtatious from then on, even the time I ran into him on the street after my marriage. He called out, "It's beautiful Beth!" and looking up I saw Christopher, and we walked together for about six blocks while he told me what was going on in his life.
And that was the last time I saw him until I moved back into the building, some fifteen years later. He no longer lives here, but his grandmother still does, and now his mother and brother do, too. And he did not recognize me, and I walked past him on the stairs without recognizing him, but goodness, I really did when his mother called his name. He is much better looking now -- his boyish puppy fat is gone, and he has cheekbones and deep set eyes, and the same dark curly hair that he always had. But he is still the same happy-go-lucky guy who doesn't much care where the money he spends comes from as long as someone has a joint. I'm guessing his mother doesn't like that very much.
So, yesterday, I was walking home from the T&P, whither I had once again been driven, as the library's w-fi was too feeble to permit me getting online, and it was a lovely, lovely, early Spring day, with bright high sun and robin's-egg sky, and a warm buoyant breeze, and I passed Seth, Christopher's older brother, who does live in the building, crossing the parking lot across the street. We exchanged hello's as we passed one another. He looks like his brother, and I always have a moment of confusion when I see him -- Christopher or not? -- and so Christopher was freshly in my mind as I opened the door and went in. Linda, his mother, was in the hallway.
"Oh, Beth," she said. "I don't know if you've heard. My son Christopher died yesterday."