The irony is that in the morning Riley is the one studying Heidegger and I am the one offering him tea. Except it’s not that breakfast-nook-sun-shining-in-the-window sort of morning. It’s not a lounge around in your bathrobe and cuddle with your lover kind of gig. It’s hardly a series of you-read-my-mind-baby sort of moments.
While he’s here in the morning, Riley seems barely present – not because he’s bored, not because he’s tired; but because, I believe, he doesn’t have a concrete understanding of what he wants in life. And since I don’t exactly know what I want from the world right now in terms of love, this is what is being reflected back to me: complex men who don’t know what they want to do in life yet are chalk full of creativity, talent, muscle, and smarts.
Once he’s gone, Riley is everywhere. A small chunk of dead grass mushed into the chair pillow, where he sat like a little Buddha at my desk. I discover a quarter-sized wad of moss in the bed sheets. There is a dried leaf on the pillow. Near my guitar stand, where I taught him how to play the E minor and D chords, anthills of dirt hide under the stool where he placed his feet. A large, dark brown smudge covers both the front and back of a collection of philosophical essays on audio culture that he had been reading.
I consider whether or not cleaning up is like sweeping him away, and whether or not I want to do that. When I tell my friend I kept Riley up late for an extended monologue on my theory of “searchers” that are attracted to working at Joe’s, during which he stayed entirely alert while rubbing my shoulders, she tells me he was probably thinking about vanilla ice cream or about his penis.
I laugh and decide I have no answers. I always asked for a man of the earth, and here I am sweeping it all out the door. He’s not the one, that’s clear. But he is here to teach me something, and I don’t think I’m done learning yet.