i’m in newport again. the stepbrother isn’t feeling well.

he’s been working on his tan, sunning at the beach every afternoon. he tells me this when i walk in the door. his blue eyes shine bright in the golden brown of his face.

the pauses are long but i’m getting better at this. i’ve learned to wait, to be patient. so we sit in the thick silence as he searches for the words.

i find myself watching him- jackie’s 84-year-old stepbrother on whom i have a teeny crush. observing his facial features as they arrange themselves in preparation for the communication of a thought.

but sometimes my mind wanders and, during one of these pauses, it darts back to something someone said. that i am confusing, contradictory. that my projects are incoherent.

i sit there, on that low-to-the-ground couch in the stepbrother’s sunroom wondering if i am doomed by my own whimsicality. if i will fail because my personality, my interests, my self are inconsistent.

we’ve been deep into an analysis of jfk’s foreign policy in the middle east when the stepbrother coughs and, apropos of nothing, he says: you know, oline, i’m presbyterian but i go to the episcopal church… i teach islam at the school and i’m a christian but most days i think the muslims have got it all right… i’m a conservative and i love obama… my friends tell me i make no sense… but i make sense enough for me so i don’t listen to them. 

having said this, he levels a steady gaze in my direction. it’s as though he has read my mind.

he holds the gaze a few seconds and then shoots me a flirtatious wink.

i’m struck upon leaving that i may never see him again. this hits me as absolutely the saddest thing.