At the show.

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Low-light, beers in hand, we’re off to the right, by the doors that lead out back. The band just started playing and you and me are fresh off a giggle fit. He had asked if we were boyfriend and girlfriend, I shook my head, smiled, said no, we’re getting a divorce.

In sociological terms, we call that a breach – we threw them off, they didn’t know how to proceed with that, there’s a look of confusion, a pause that lasts just a bit too long as you and me exchange glances back and forth, reveling in that awkward moment just a little.

How do you do that, they asked, and you, nearly sober, said something about love, about how you love me still, always have, always will, and I the same.

So love. That’s how we do it, that’s how I credit you as a best friend still, divorce proceedings be damned. It’s been there since we met in a Fort Belvoir motor pool, and it’ll be there until we’re both cold and dead, ashes spread under redwood trees.

Back by the door, it’s us. Beers mostly gone, trying to find the right moment to break away and grab another when that song comes on and I reach to squeeze your hand, because I don’t know what else to do. It’s my right and your left and we hold on for dear life, hands clenched like they used to be, but it’s different now. There’s a desperation in the grip, like if we let go we’d both fall apart or shatter on the ground.

So I hold your hand and you hold mine for the entirety of a song that hits us hard and we cling to one another, like we have for nearly a decade, because what else is there left to do?

The song ends, we shift, drop the hands, cough a little to rid ourselves of a strange moment neither one of us quite knows what to do with because we’re still figuring it out. We’ve got the love thing down, you and me – always have – but it’s different now. It’s twilight for our marriage, maybe, but you’re still my family. You’re still first on my call list to catch a show or grab a drink last minute, because you’re my friend. You always were.

You left to get more beers and the song, the one I didn’t know was our song, is playing when you come back. I feel you there, behind me and I know you can’t catch your breath either. I can feel it. I can’t even look at you, because my eyes will fill up and I don’t want to drop tears on the floor of a concert venue, not again. This is just too much, I think, it hits too close to home, it hits the heart and breaks all the strings, unwinding the careful dance we do around all that was and is, all the words we never got to say, the clean break we deserved because we broke ourselves and each other, all the words I wasted and the ones you kept for just you.

It bubbles up just then, with the music, you and me, whiskey drunk, singing in the dining room, riding across bridges screaming our favorite songs, traveling, adventuring, being, and there we go again, breaking our hearts all over again in the name of musical integrity.

We never did anything the right way, you and me, but maybe our way is our right way. We didn’t date right, didn’t marry right, didn’t plan our life right and and we’re not divorcing right either, but fuck it. I like our way better.

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