Every other month I go out for meat. Succulently spit roasted to juicy magnificence. Seasoned to a spike of salinity that is both overwhelming and comforting. Carved into thin slivers that have to be torn with the canines like a wild animal, and yet is tender. It is both viscerally primal and delicately elegant, in a messy overlap that purees the line between them and then pours the resultant liquid over the meat itself as a sauce so delectable it would make you punch your mother in the kidneys for another taste, and then happily accept both the resultant guilt and the accompanying medical bills.
This transcendent meal is as expensive as it sounds. I’m broke as hell. I shouldn’t be able to afford it. Not really. But I go. Every other month. Because I’m lucky. Because some people are awesome.
One time, after a roleplaying game I GMed, someone playing a gargoyle decided his character really should go on that spiritual pilgrimage he told his parents he was attending so they wouldn’t realize he was running off to South America on a risky spy mission for an organization they wouldn’t approve of his belonging to. What should have been a few exchanged emails about his uneventful journey to Isfahan blossomed into almost three hundred emails, many of them hundreds of words long, or longer. It was a novella, spun between the two of us. A coming of age tale about a young outsider’s first true attempt to find his place in the world.
In the process he journeyed to a desert oasis that could not exist, battled an impossibly ancient being next to a dead hero of his own race, and got the first glimpse of his strange and complicated past, and a hint on what that meant for his future. It was the first of many such stories in that game. A simple roleplaying game, but one that, before it was done, forged a new relationship, cracked a group of friends in two, and created a bond between me and that gargoyle’s player that I value as much as anything in my life. And it might be that none of it would ever have happened without that first pilgrimage.
A few weeks ago, my mother in law broke her arm. She was already in her 70s, and diabetic, and barely self-sufficient. Now she’s bedridden and can’t even shift on her pillow — let alone got to the bathroom — without help. This has left me as her full-time caretaker, which threatens every single day to burst my psyche into a sharp tangle of bloody splinters. I like to think I’m an empathetic and caring person, but my empathy is nearly drained. This same friend, the gargoyle, keeps talking to me. He keeps trying to help, even offering the kind of help friends are not remotely obligated to offer each other. It’s a tough time, and without my wonderful wife, and this fantastic friend, I don’t know how I’d cope with it.
I hope I’m embarrassing him, by saying all of this in a semi-public forum. Partially because I’m embarrassing myself for being so sappy. But also because he’s that kind of friend, too. The kind I can abuse. Which I do readily. Because he has it coming. And because everyone else abuses me. He tries to, too. But he isn’t very good at it. That’s okay. He’s good at an awful lot of other things; things that are way more important. Just because I can’t think of them right now doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
But enough of that. I’m only trying to say something I should be able to say in three words, if I wasn’t so obsessed with being different. And if I wasn’t trying to put off posting this Hallmark card of a blog post.
So here we go, without any more delays: