I'm going away for a while, I say.
Rémi cocks his head, his interest piqued for the first time tonight. (One of us needs to start playing devil's advocate, I had said half-jokingly earlier after a lull in the conversation, you and I agree on too much.)
New York, I say. Brooklyn.
His expression doesn't seem to register the significance of my destination.
What's in New York?, he asks.
I cradle the glass in my hand toward me then let go.
I don't know, I say. Isn't that what people do when they don't know what else to do? Go to New York for a few days?
He gives a slight scoff, coupled with a gesture implying concession.
I didn't know you were so without things to do, he says, the menisci of his eyelids almost one-third of the way down his eyes behind his glasses. He is either wounded at my sudden intimation of pneumatic restlessness (the subtle, self-castigating injury that is almost a reflexive anger, from the realization that one has not been observant enough to notice changes in demeanor until out of sheer necessity the observed has to, however circuitously, express some sort of shameful plea for help), or else is aware that social mores dictate such a display as an unspoken apology for poor emotional acuity between friends and goes along with the expectation because he might as well.
You ever been?
Once, he says. It isn't anything special. He adds: but then, nowhere is, really.
We chuckle at each other.
I'll be gone a week probably, I say. Two, tops.
(Here, I look back over the last year and realize this will be the longest period of time we will go sans semi-weekly congregations, save for one month-long period during winter when both he and I were besieged by the end-of-term bustle, although really it was only the brief dialogic portions of our meetings that had been absent from our respective lives; the monologues — and for Rémi, the drinking — were mainstays, meetings or no.)
What will I do without you, he mocks in a deadpan, and we both laugh, sincerely.