I wake up, and with my eyes still closed, I realize there is someone in my apartment. Noises; shuffling, drawer, bottle top popped. I am hardly cognizant of anything other than how parched I am. Vaguely noting my general lack of alarm, all sensory aptitude coated in a hazy sleep cloud, I remember. Nathan is here. Oh, right.
“Mmmmmmph”, I summon, and stretch myself across the sheets. “You’re here,” I state the obvious, sleepy and needy. He appears with water. “Did you sleep here?” I asked, still a bit drunk. He laughed. “You were awfully cuddly for someone who doesn’t remember someone else in their bed.”
This startles me. Was he teasing? Or did my subconscious recognize him through my blackout and snuggle in like a puppy in a huddle? It’s certainly possible. We’ve never been in the same country long enough to actually date, but we’ve always held an odd candle for each other. Over the years we’ve evolved to a kind of beautiful plutonic love. The feeling that you get from wearing your ex boyfriends cashmere sweater; it was something else once, but now it’s gently comfortable and familiar, nostalgic even. That is my Nathan now. Definition unnecessary, we just are.
He is back from volunteering in Haiti doing medical work in situations that I, nor 90% of the planet have the capacity to comprehend. It is one of the thousands of things about him that I marvel at. He’d walked into the clinic and was stunned by the instant relief and gratitude for his presence. “Thank God you’re here,” they’d said. I could just picture him looking over his shoulder for the person behind him that they were surely talking to, not realizing that he was their hero. Of course, he jumped right in. A woman tending to a man needing stitches said to Nathan, “Here, stitch him up and I’ll be right back”. Despite the fact he’d never done that before, he stitched him up. “She never came back.” He said, telling me the story. My hands flew to cover my open mouth at the mere idea of stitching someones face . “But he looked great.” He laughed. “I high-fived him on the way out.”
He is in the states for 4 whole days before heading to Africa, a long stretch for him. He’s never somewhere for long. He moves seamlessly from one amazing cause to the next, leaving every thing and everyone better. One of his more endearing traits is just that. He has no idea how incredible he is. He is modest and humble in a way that you only see from someone who is so complete with themselves, they are able to truly give to others without needing anything in return. From his perspective, it’s just his life.
He’s just the regular guy that free dives the deepest oceans, has been attacked by sharks twice, taught children English in Korea, has been a Chef, an Engineer, and apparently a doctor. He spent months on a whale watching expedition. He can play guitar, dance and speak Spanish from a stint in Guatemala. He writes love letters. And once, he laid on the top deck of a yacht with me under the stars in the Bahamas and planned out my “things to do before I turn 30” list. He has been to every corner of the globe, probably twice, and is as brilliant as he is charming. He even slightly resembles Superman.
The night before, both of us desperate from a break from our current situations, we’d plunged into the type of Miami night that can not be planned. A birthday drink with a friend turned into a feast at La Sandwicherie, shots at The Deuce and karaoke at Studio. It was a grimy free for all kind of fun that you can only achieve by not caring abut a single thing, toasting everything and regretting nothing.
I needed it so bad. Nathan being there was like therapy. Of course I couldn’t shut up about my stupid ex stress, and Nathan listened like the great person he is despite coming from Haiti a few hours earlier. A place with actual problems. “Well, that says a lot about his childhood.” He’d pointed out when I told him how abandoned I felt. “That’s probably what happened to him, and why he does that now.” We sipped Hierbas from Ibiza, Amstel Lights, and backed it up with the Haitian rum Nathan had gifted me, fully aware that the night held exactly the kind of promise one could hope for when one starts by triple fisting drinks.
This morning he had woken up after only sleeping a few hours, needing to purge thoughts onto a page. Waking up to the sound of him typing on my laptop was sweet. The result was an incredible email, sent to loved ones and myself. When forwarded to my mom she responded with, “Left reeling by the power of these words. Reading this makes me realize I don’t use my brain, or my life to anywhere near its capacity. What a wonderful human. How good he is for humanity.”
Before he left, all too soon, I showed him my Nathan Diaries. A series of emails between us that spanned our 5 years as friends. We sifted through letters, reading each others writing. It is the closest thing I have to an actual diary, seeing as though I never seem to write as consistently as I promise myself. It is enlightening to read over years of our struggles and triumphs, our paths winding around the world on land and at sea. Despite always being apart, we are so connected. Knowing he is always mid adventure inspires me.
I sit now wearing a sweater he’d worn the night we went out, the two of us again in different hemispheres, grateful for his words.
“So often I catch us sneaking a glance at the last page and then just putting the book down. That just leaves us with nothing to read, and far worse, seems to say that the point of a book is the last page! If that we’re true the best books would be the shortest and the most certain way to enjoy a book would be to read it quickly. Neither is true. We read for the love and the joy of it and I’m pleased you got to the end of this story the way it was intended.”
For his words… inspire mine.