Colors turn like people, green leaves taking orange and brown.
At the zoo alive in summer and alive in change and alive as a child, Brian held above the rock ridden wall of the tortoise exhibit by our grandmother. And there's a little boy running around this place that never leaves. He will never leave.
We had our uncle from Brazil in town calling out “Mach 1, 2, 3” driving grandma's baby blue Oldsmobile the faster we went. We counted up. Buckled in the back seat, the air conditioning on, the same air conditioning I never use now in the summer when windows are meant to be drawn down like guns, we counted up.
Uncle Steve went to the zoo with us. He saw orangutans, saw colors change like people and drank things watching baseball games into the night in grandma's living room, drinking these things: whiskey the color of wood floors, beer the taste of mold. He changed somehow and then so did we all growing up.
A teenager's perception knew then what would get passed down from Uncle Steve. On my grandmother's deathbed she asked me what I had learned from her in my lifetime and from our friendship:
I said, “Be good.”
She asked, “And?”
“Fight for your place in this world.”
“Never forget what love is.”
She knew he would leave the city once she had passed. It was in her bones the way one grows older knowing the weather there. And she died and he left. Over years, I came to understand the competition of love, that love will negate itself within it, finding this as the differences between Brian and I emerged over the course of time. I find it in the scarcity and fight for companionship, in the colors of the leaves in the park across from where I live like orangutans.
One of the first nights here in the new place there's a yelling in the middle, dark of it, a woman's voice and then squad cars.
“Always fight for your place in this world, even when there's a competition of love. But never forget what love is.”
I pull my fingers back from spacing two blinds going back to bed. I will hear ambulances later this week across the intersection a mile away. I will hear a little boy running around this place who will never leave. He will never leave and I'm positive the woman is in love somehow.
Riding the bicycle through the park noticing an affection of smooth tires on concrete, I go faster and faster, I go mach four, five, slowing down only to be good. I shop and when I shop, I shop at the lower tier grocery stores for the sake of a dollar. I go on from here fighting for my place in the world. Brian lives close, just across town, though I never see or hear from him.
There is proximity but then the proximity of family.
We go on from here.