The reason I mention it is because in situations such as this where we were all laughing, hugging, snapping photos, stumbling around arm-in-arm singing traditional music, etc, he always seemed to be…on the outside. Like he wasn’t or didn’t want to be a part of the situation. Almost like he had friends for the illusion of having friends – because he was supposed to and not because he had any desire or use for them.
So we got back to his apartment and gathered around to play video games. He had this seating area that was less of a couch and more like a sort of plush cube. Though it made for an awkward seating arrangement, it was excessively comfortable. Instead of sitting politely, we would all have to sprawl across the gigantic couch-pillow or roll up in a corner. And we all fit! Well, everyone except for F who, again, seemed to want to remove himself from the scenario and look down his nose at the rest of us.
As two of the boys got controllers to play the first match of FIFA, F handed me his supplies to roll a joint. I laughed thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. I did him the favor of rolling it, and then tried to hand it back to him, not feeling the need to continue smoking. There’s this idiom in Rome, though, “Chi la fa l’appiccia” which basically means, “Whoever rolls it, lights it.”
So when I tried to hand him the rolled joint, he pushed it back towards me laughing. I rolled my eyes and lit the thing, hitting it once or twice for good measure and then attempting to hand it to him. Again he laughed and still would not take it, pushing it back to me more forcefully. I was kind of confused but thought maybe he was just teasing me about my state of inebriation, so I hit it a few more times and then told him if he didn’t take it off me I would give it to someone else.
And then it kept going around the circle. My head was spinning and I felt like I was going to vomit, but he kept insisting that I smoke – more and more. Whatever I had been suspicious about, I was no longer. I couldn’t be. I was too far gone for coherent thought. I saw my teammates crashing and burning around me, one asleep in the corner, the other diagonal across the oddly-shaped furniture, A sprawled out directly beside me. Somehow I had ended up leaning against him.
Out of all of the boys, I had the deepest connection with him. I trusted him. The last thing I remember was thinking, “I’m safe if he’s here,” before I fell asleep with my head on his chest.