I found Saul speaking in tongues to a crack addict in a back alley in Philly. Barely recognized him. He had grown, or more accurately neglected to shave, a long dreadlocked, dirt filled beard. His eyes where blood-shot like a coke head on a Friday night. He was hunched over a fire on the ground in the jacket that I had bought him two Christmases ago. It was his rock-bottom moment.
I don’t know for sure what the series of unfortunate events was that lead him to his slum but I have a pretty good guess. I had ran into Lola a few weeks ago. She told me that she had just left Saul in San Fransico. That made her one of my least favorite people. It was when she said that she hadn’t heard from him and had started to get worried that really put her on the top of my shit list. I had half a mind to scream to her hmmm… I wonder if you haven’t heard from him because, um, maybe because you left him in the middle of California and didn’t say anything to him!. The other half of my mind just wanted to punch her in the face. The later half won out. I have a hell of a right hook.
Saul loved her like you couldn’t believe. It was the kind of love that only two people who are unique in the exact same way could love each other. It was an eccentric, electric love. They were both passionate like fire so it was no surprise to me that he got burned. My lack of surprise didn’t dull the pain of seeing my best friend’s breakdown over a girl. A stupid girl at that.
I had been feeling really guilty ever since Lola asked me to find him. After all, it was me who told Saul to go over to her and introduce himself. I started the relationship that put him here. At first I thought that they would be the perfect couple. They were both cocky, boisterous, funny and very very odd. The both used to talk to themselves often, even if you were right in front of them. It was as if they were completely immersed in their own little world. Saul would have whole conversations in his head, weighing the pros and cons of any decision, replaying everything he had done in his mind.
He sometimes thought through what he would say to you so much that he would forget that he didn’t actually have a conversation with you. That took a long time to get used to, especially when they would argue. 10 minutes after any discussion they would have, they both became convinced that they were right. As if they had come back into the same room, began arguing, and had come out on top (all without saying word). They were peculiar like that.
When we were all in New York they were always the instigators. Saul would have all of us hopping from borough to borough every day while Lola had us pursuing her through the city every night. We were all like supporting characters in their indie flick. Not that I’m complaining or anything, it was actually damn good fun to tell you the truth. The rest of us had the time of our lives just following and observing them.
They actually used to put on these little two person plays in different (rich) neighborhoods. Sean would take out his guitar and put up a sign that said “Starving Actors Looking for Drug Money.” The plays were probably the fuckin’ most obsurd things that I have ever witnessed but the fact that they took it so seriously made bystanders stand and watch the whole thing. They could make as much as 60 dollars for one play. Their plays ranged from anything to updates on Shakespearean plays or soap opera style romance plays. They always reminded me of the players from Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. They reminded me of a lot of things.
I often wondered if they we actually able to act. It seemed that they merely, for only minutes at time, exposed another facet of their existence that you had just never seen before. I know now that they had a sort of flexibility to them, a liquid conception of self that meant that every action became a part of them. As if they were becoming themselves through the roles. I don’t know. They were real life characters in a pretentious writer’s book. Loud demeanors that could only explained in poetic and lyric terms.
I know that sounds like new age bullshit. The kind of thing a tooked up hippie says about their equally fuck up friends. Psychedelic, far out, free-lovin’ freedom and independence. Damn it, its hard to explain. They were…
They were both huge characters who dominated any room that they found themselves in. Lola looked at the world as having been made just for her. Everyone and everything around her served mostly to peak and satisfy her own fucking curiosity. She had a innate inability to stay on task or on topic. No matter what the group had been talking about she wouldn’t just say anything, related or not, that entered her mind. It was both amusing and frustrating. Looking back on those days I’m not sure she realized that she was always going off on her own tangents. She chose when to listen and when to forget that people were talking to her. She had a really childish way about her.
I think Saul was the only person who she interacted with in any semblance of normal adult communication. It was as if Saul made her grow up. Whenever they were together she would start deeply insightful discussions and be truly interested in what you were saying. I still don’t understand how Saul had such a dramatic influence over how she behaved. Over the course of the few weeks we were in New York she began to grow up. It was like she got a year older every week after she met Saul. I think it might have been that she was so taken with him that she grew up to get to his level. Well, for whatever reason it happened. It happened and I thought it stuck.
There was actually a point were I began to have a great deal of respect for her. It was the same point I think when Saul started falling for her. He had been infatuated with her since they first saw each other but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that he began having true feelings for her. The true feelings that make you feel stupid thinking that you already love someone. She had made a 180*. At first it was as if someone finally gave her the adderal that she had so desperately needed. She began to calm down, get her head out of the air and started paying more attention to the people around her. Eventually she became more and more aware of how she had been acting. She started to truly care about the rest of the group. She ended up being a good and compassionate listener and, yes, a friend.
She ended up becoming a sweet, intelligent young woman. The other beggars in the group would come to her with their different problems and complicated situations. She would listen intently and give words of advice and compassion. It was quite the transformation, She became a sort of unlikely matriarch.I still am shocked when I think about her when I first met her and when she left New York. She didn’t slow down, didn’t stop acting crazy though, she simply put her feet on the ground and started running instead of flying around. And damn could she run. She still wanted to try everything and anything. What changed was that she cared about experiencing things with other people. She became happier making connections with people and less satisfied by living in the world that only had room for her and her ego.
She left her mark on him as well. He had always been a little crazy but she put him over the top. When we first met he would have shied away from things that he wouldn’t blink an eye at now. Before he met her he was a social butterfly but would have never tramped so loudly through the city causing welcomed disturbances to the status quo of strangers. He began to start breaking out into spontaneous singing or free styling his spoken word on street corners. He would walk up to strangers and strike up conversations with them. He began being addicted to talking on and on with people he barely knew. He would invite anyone he met to come romping through the city with us, just like an old lady collects stray cats.
I think she made him truly happy for the first time in his life; happy, but not necessarily on an even keel. He would still have subtle mood swings that refused to let almost anyone see. He only let me, Lola and Sean notice is chronic dissatisfaction with no apparent causes. He would smile his oh so charming smile and take long walks through the city stopping on a bench to brood. Most of the people who “knew” him had no clue that he was ever anything other than elated. Sometimes I would find him on the verge of tears. Yet always just on the verge. I could never tell whether it was pride or embarrassment that didn’t allow him to cry.
I once asked if he wanted to see a doctor (a psychologist) but he said that he had been laying on doctors couches since he learned to talk. He had been on medications but nothing seemed to work so he eventually just gave up. I think that maybe sorrow is cost the opportunity cost of depth. Of complexity. I think that had Saul been less intellectual, less observant he would had been right as rain but then he wouldn’t be Saul then would he?
He always said that he would be fine once he found a place where he felt like he was home. Now that I think about it I think that he would have to travel the world until he figured out that there was no where else. He would run until there was nowhere else to run. Then, and only then, he would have to come to terms with reality as it is; have to face the facts.
But that was not the time to be doing any sort of Freudian examination. That moment was the time to get him into a warm bath and some clean clothes. It was a struggle to get Saul back into my hotel room. At first he didn’t even recognize me, it was as if he had retreated to his own solitary confinement. I had to shake him violently until he came to his senses. I told him that I was there to help and he mouthed “thanks” but couldn’t seem to form any words.
When we went back into the hotel we caused quite a scene. There was just this small pale girl trying to take this grungy man twice her size who up to her room. When we got up to my room I dropped him on the couch and he fell into a deep sleep almost instantaneously. His stank filled the room even faster. I had to go to the nearest concievence store to get some air fresheners just so I could sleep in the same room with him. I also took the liberty to pick up some generic pajamas that I knew Saul would hate (they were pink) but it gave him something to wear after his much needed shower.
When he awoke, still operating on whatever funk he had had the night before, he seemed to have forgotten my finding him. He immediately looked around hectically to figure out where he was and how he got there. It took him almost 5 minutes to realize I was in the same room with him and another minute for him to realize who I was. Eventually he smiled and, “holy shit, it’s been a l…God…a really long time… how are you?” got up to walk over a give me a hug. I of course ducked out of the way and told him that we would talk after he took a shower and put on some clean clothes.
He took an epic shower. I went out to get us some breakfast and he was only halfway through by the time I got back. Considering how dirty he was before he took that shower though, I was surprised that it only took him 45min to get clean and another 30 to shave. “Thanks for the clothes Lucey.” He said with a beaming smile. “You’re more than welcome Saul.” I replied.
I asked him to tell me what happened, how he got into that Alley and why he looked so jacked up. He just shook his head and said “It’s a long long fucking story.” I told him that I had just spent 2 weeks stomping through shit in back alleys in Philly, did it really seem like I was in a hurry to get anywhere. He told me that he had spiraled out of control when Lola left him in San Fransico. She had just gotten up one morning and left him. At first he thought that she was just playing with him. He walked through the city trying to find her like an Easter egg hunt. Eventually fun turned into boredom, bordorm in to irritation, irritation to fear. He called and kept calling her. He said that he spent the next few days wondering why. She didn’t leave a note or give any heads up to where she was going or why she left. Frigid bitch! I thought. Saul, seemingly reading my mind said, with a dead-pan stare, “She had issues she needs to work out I guess.” Issues! She’ll have issue when a put my… “I know what you’re thinking but she we both saw this coming didn’t we?” He said reluctantly, as if he had just had a painful epiphany.
He was right. We did. So did Lola. You can only expect a girl to grow up so much so fast I guess, even for love.