with bravado

one man's 29-year-old quest to live and share a worthy story

sunday post: missing.

Sunday Post

what does it mean to ‘miss’ people?

The wheels of my plane touched down against Indianapolis pavement just after midnight on Friday morning. No matter how many times I fly, that moment of impact is jarring. The sudden reappearance of the ground, the plane gliding closer and closer to contact, wheels reuniting with earth, and then the roar of the wind overhead as the plane lurches to a halt. More often than not, I discover I’ve been holding my breath.

The airport was sleepy, operating at an eerie lull, and I arrived at baggage claim just in time to grab my luggage without a wait. Rolling it behind me, I stepped through automatic doors and out into an Indiana night. Familiarity fell over me the way a lover surprises you while you’re working, gentle kiss on the crown.

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book club: ‘the lost language of cranes’.

I brought my friend to Indy Reads Books with a mission of showing him a place he might fall in love with. Nestled at the end of Massachusetts Avenue, this particular bookstore feels a bit like a love letter to literature. Every shelf feels carefully tended, walls papered with the pages of books. For my friend and me, it was one of our last days together in Indiana. At least for this chapter.

‘You’ve got read this,’ he said with a smile, handing me a novel he’d pulled from a bin waiting to be dispersed. The Lost Language of Cranes, by David Leavitt. I read the summary –– a young man, Philip, decides it is time to come out to his parents, Owen and Rose. But Owen and Rose are faced with their own concerns, the changing real estate rules of New York City forcing them to consider buying out their long-dwelled apartment. And Owen, unbeknownst to his wife, continues to struggle with his own suppression of his desires to be with a man.

New York City. Family. Gay men navigating their truths. I smiled at my friend, rolling my eyes, and bought the novel. I decided, on that day, it would be the first novel I began and ended in New York City.

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book club: ‘history is all you left me’.

I pulled History is All You Left Me from the shelves of the Muncie Books-a-Million, drawn to read the back cover by my previous experience with author Adam Silvera. Committing himself to writing thoughtful queer stories for young adults, Silvera is not only willing to write about queerness honestly, but he also grapples with death, loss, grief –– topics we often imagine young adults would rather avoid considering.

History is told through the voice of Griffin, a young man living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and freshly navigating the unexpected death of his first boyfriend, Theo. Chapters alternate between his story following the loss of Theo and the story of how he and Theo fell in love ––  their ‘history,’ explored in the hopes of finding a means forward.

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time to begin, isn’t it?

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The night before I moved to New York City, my father and I arrived at our hotel in Weehawken, New Jersey. Situated beside the Hudson River, the structure stands in a years-long staring contest with the city skyline, so, when we turned the wrong way to reach our parking lot, we glanced to our right to see the sort of scene we’d seen a hundred times on postcards or television shows. “Oh, Michael,” my Dad said, momentarily lifted out of the fatigue of the day-long drive, “you have to get out and take a picture of that.” I started to protest –– I wasn’t wearing shoes, pictures taken in the dark never look all that g –– “Hurry!” Dad chided.

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grandma king.

Grandma

My early memories of my Grandma King are associated with the kinds of things children tend to connect to grandmothers: Jolly Ranchers on top of the fridge, ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, meals at holidays. Always handed over without a second thought. “Here you go, honey.” It wasn’t until many years later that I recognized this as a hallmark of her heart –– steady, unassuming, unconditional. The kind of love that stays when you’re holding trophies and when your life has fallen to pieces around your feet.

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book club: ‘among the ten thousand things’.

I found Among the Ten Thousand Things in an array of books arranged on the table of Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore. My eyes were drawn to the title, arrange in block fonts against what appears to be a city skyline, and my hands were compelled. Sometimes we know we will find ourselves in stories by instinct.

My journey reading the text, however, has been punctuated and stretched. I read the first two sections on city train rides, the next eight or so on an afternoon read at the campus library in the fall, six more at the airport this spring, and the rest over muggy summer days. Each time, I was pulled back into the worlds of these characters –– Jack, Deb, Simon, Kay.

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soundtrack to a chapter.

At some point, I tweeted, stop adding songs to the playlist. Let it live and breathe in its current form. One day, many days after this chapter has ended, open it again, hit play, lie your head back, and bask.

Music has a way of following us around all day. Headphones pump music into our eardrums, granting soundtracks to our commutes. In the car, we drum on our steering wheels and sing along, settling down at stoplights. We curate playlists for the people we fall in love with, passing songs along in social media messages, love letters in their own right. Then, in a moment we aren’t expecting, a song we’ve forgotten catches us off-guard. Our faces go gentle, eyes go distant. Memories pull themselves from the shelf, unfurl before our eyes, beg our hands to brush over them.

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