The first thing I tell people before introducing my friend is how we are fundamentally different. It’s as though I’m worried without preemptive clarification we might become indivisible at near focus. I imagine some would say it’s our accents, two Londoners in New York with words, phrases, thoughts and fashions inevitably entangling. By way of clarification, I often play the antonym game; he’s a guy’s guy/I’m very shy. He’s impulsive/I’m crippled by indecision. He’s on first name terms with a barber/ I avoid mirrors. And so on.
Recently, my friend told me he feels like an adult. The epiphany came in the checkout line of a home goods store. He was poised to spend the most mundane eighty dollars of his life and casting a glance over scrubbies (the smiley-face ones), kitchen towels, dish soap, counter cleaner – all of which he realised had become essential life objects – he sensed the presence of adulthood.
I asked him if the state was permanent or prone to fluctuation. He said it was like choosing your outfit in the morning; a decision that can be taken many ways, some days are meant for suits, others for t-shirts and sandals – you know what I mean, he said very matter-of-factly. Did I sense a quiet dig at my not owning a suit? I suppose sharing a wardrobe has its drawbacks.
I have always thought of adulthood as something internal, a stubborn knot that grows like a night flower in our sleep. I had not considered it some façade, a jacket against the cold. I do not agree with you at all, I long to say to my fundamentally different friend. I think the change is something else entirely, but what then? I think we are losing spontaneity, yes, that’s about the ring of it. How as teenagers our conversations were meandering plotless things, or the come-and-join-us way we had with strangers.
Sometimes, I consider announcing the impending death of spontaneity, a call to drive the spectre of adulthood from the threshold of our friendship. But, of course, there are jobs to go to, dishes to clean. I’ve this urge to clear away the table, draw the curtains, and declare a wrestling match on the living room rug. In my imagining, I wait for you to shower. As you fill the apartment with eucalyptus steam, I separate the blue from the red corner. We are in/appropriately dressed. The room draws close and hot as we thump-knock-bang our neighbours into genuine concern. A little melodramatic, I realize, but there you have it.