Alright, guys. I’d been avoiding it but now I have other homework to avoid so here’s my second paper for Narrative and Argument. We’re on a fourth now and I only feel like they’re getting steadily worse. As you know, I’m use to writing about myself, but writing about other people is much harder.
In this paper we had to write about someone else. As you can see, it turned into much more of a mixed portraiture.
(I’m recording it again because, like my first paper, I think it would be pretty boring to have to read–aka, I’m a poor writer).
Evan was on my right and there were three other people congregating at the linoleum dining table with us. Even though collectively our average is about twenty, the house was decorated in 70s-style décor complete with a floral print couch and macramé owl. The time warp felt surprisingly natural considering the eclectic group and the shabbiness of the basement apartment.
I watched with guilty fascination as one of the three people lit up a joint. Evan was oblivious as he plucked away at the acoustic guitar he’d brought along. He had a glass bottleneck around his left index finger that he used as a make-shift slide—pressing it against the strings to blend the notes. He rarely played a full song so I couldn’t tell if he was working on music he already knew or was inventing his own melody. Like any good host, the girl holding the blunt looked at us and asks, “Want a hit?” I declined and her eyes moved to Evan. She raised her eyebrows to silently ask the question again. I was aware of how hard I stared at him to see what he’d do. We weren’t dating anymore, so he could do whatever he wanted. What did he want?
Our eyes locked for an instant before he responds to her. “No thanks, I’m good,” he said casually. Then he refocused on the instrument and the moment passes.
We never looked like a ‘good couple,’ but there was always something about our asymmetry that I liked. At just under six-foot four, Evan was an exceptionally tall person and at exactly five feet, I was an exceptionally short person. My Vietnamese heritage has given me a petite frame, straight dark hair, and a slightly tanned complexion. Evan, on the other hand, is an ideal Swede with a mass of curly white-blond hair, blue eyes, a prominent nose, and fair skin that he himself has described as “impressively white.” He is muscular, but because his limbs are so elongated he has always appeared more gawky than strong.
I first met Evan in our eight-grade history class. With his lanky figure, acne-prone pale skin, and t-shirts that didn’t fit properly over his long torso, I thought he was a shy kid that could have used a new friend. To my surprise, he quickly became my best friend and easily one of the most intriguing people I’ve met.
More than half of the time I went to his house he was in the basement painting. As we descended the stairs together I would be greeted with the sound of his favorite jazz or blues music. He is still one of the most diligent young artists I have ever met. Even back when he was a high school student he had a passion for his medium that made me worried whether I would ever feel the same way about anything I did. Evan would wake up, start painting, and then keep painting all day, only stopping to eat. Without an exhibition coming up or assignment required for class, he’d happily work on a painting day and night for weeks. As an artist, he constantly experimented with different techniques and styles, resulting in a variety of work that was beautiful in distinctive ways. He was never without a pen and paper to jot down an observation or the name of something to research later.
He recently told me I was one of the few people patient enough to see him at “his weirdest”: when he was talking through ideas that came to him. It wasn’t ‘patience,’ it was genuine interest. Without trying, he taught me how to love learning about art and to see the world through the lens of an artist. He told me history of blues music and the struggles of his favorite musicians. He introduced me to his grandmother, a retired psychologist who has lived an adventurous life. We hung out in bookstores and coffee shops and talked about the Whys and Hows of life. These subdued activities or deep conversations became the norm.
We had been best friends two years before we started dating and I had felt like we were always on the same page. But when his interests started evolving (in the normal ways almost all teenagers’ did) and I resisted. I resented that he was finding new activities, especially ones that I wasn’t fond of. For Evan, different types of experiences and people were on an equal plane that he could pick and choose from. He moved seamlessly through radically different groups of friends in a way that I couldn’t. While I stayed obstinately behind, he went to parties, drank, and rebelled against authority. I didn’t understand that for him they were just other opportunities to have fun or to learn—they were not a revolt against our friendship or me.
Tonight, Evan had invited me to meet his new friends. It had been about a year since we’d last seen each other and I was a little uncomfortable, but my curiosity to see this other world first hand outweighed my hesitation. After we both tired of the forced small talk with the people on the porch we had migrated downstairs where his closer friends were. Being naturally quiet, it was a relief for Evan to escape downstairs to the more intimate group. He had immediately settled into a chair and started playing his guitar just like he was at home.
I was trying to spy on ‘the other side’ of Evan, but there wasn’t a dramatic transformation into Mr. Hyde that I had fantasized about when he went to these parties. Instead I saw him sitting next to next to me, engrossed in his own thoughts and work like he always was. All these experiences, whether having brunch with his grandmother or at a bonfire at his cabin, were on one continuous spectrum and he didn’t understand why I was always trying to segment him. From previous experience, I knew he could have easily picked up a conversation with someone, but at this moment he was content do his own thing so he didn’t. He could have accepted the pot, drank some more beer, and gotten intoxicated, but he didn’t feel like it. The activities and friends were diverse, but he didn’t overindulge in any one area.
His fingers paused over the guitar and he asked me softly, “Are you having fun?” He knew I never appreciated events like this. In the past, I would have been gotten disgruntled and wanted to leave. But now, thinking about what had actually happened tonight, it didn’t seem so bad: I hadn’t met anyone I didn’t like or been forced to behave any differently.
“Yes,” I reply. Evan smiles, happy that there is no tension between his friends.