The night Sammy almost killed himself a bunch of guys on the Vassar College baseball team and I were playing beer pong in a dorm room on campus. It’s a stupid game. You take ten plastic cups, fill them with beer and arrange them in a triangle at the each end of a table. Then you try to throw a Ping-Pong ball into the cups and if you make it, somebody on the other team has to drink the beer from the cup.
Anyway, at around midnight Flesh, a junior on the baseball team, received a text message from Sam. It was lyrics from a Metallica song. He texted Sam back, asking him where he was and what he was doing. He got no response. He played a game of beer pong, lost, drank a few more beers and then received another text from Sam: another lyric from Metallica. Flesh texted Sam back, telling him he was at a party.
“Nobody invited me,” Sam replied.
Flesh texted back Sam telling him to come over, but Sam didn’t respond. A half hour went by. Still no reply. Forty five minutes passed. Nothing.
Finally, an hour later, Flesh received a text from Sam.
It simply said, “Goodbye.”
Flesh grabbed his jacket and ran out of the room and into the hallway. He tried calling Sam three times but got no answer. Finally, on the fourth try, Sam picked up the phone.
“Sam,” he said. “What’s going on?”
Sam was sobbing. “Nobody told me people were playing pong,” he said between muffled cries. “Nobody invited me and you didn’t respond to my texts.”
“Sammy,” said Flesh, “we responded to your texts but your texts were Metallica lyrics. How are we supposed to respond? Your texts didn’t say anything.”
“It’s not okay,” Sam howled. Then he hung up.
Casty, another junior on the team, was outside in the hall, returning from the bathroom when he heard Flesh on the phone.
“I could tell something was wrong,” he later told me. “I kept hearing Flesh say, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ over the phone.”
“What’s going on?” Casty asked Flesh.
“We have to go find Sammy,” replied Flesh.
Casty grabbed his coat and the two of them walked outside into the snow in search of Sam. The glow of the street lamps reflecting off the snow and shining against Casty’s long, dark hair was their only light. Flesh’s fang-like teeth clattered partly from the cold and partly from worry. As they walked to Sam’s dorm, he tried in vain to call Sam back. When they arrived, Sam’s door was locked. They banged on it, but nobody answered.
They walked back outside into the biting cold and headed toward a large tree in front of the campus library, all the while trying to call Sam. Finally, Flesh reached him over the phone.
“Where are you?” he asked. Sam didn’t answer. “Where are you?” he repeated.
“I’m everywhere,” Sam moaned. “And I’m nowhere.”
Casty could hear Sam’s voice through the phone.
“I’ve never heard anybody cry so much,” he told me. “It was as loud and emotional as you could imagine. It was enough to where I got scared.”
Noticing that Flesh was too nervous to get a coherent answer out of Sam, Casty took the phone. As they walked closer to the tree, Casty asked Sam where he was but Sam wouldn’t tell him.
“What’s going on?” Casty asked.
“I don’t wanna tell you,” Sam slurred.
“We care about you,” Casty said. “We’re worried about you. That’s why we’re out in the cold right now.”
“You don’t care about me,” cried Sam. “You didn’t invite me and didn’t respond to my texts.”
The conversation seemed to be headed nowhere. They wondered how they were ever going to find Sam, or if.
All this, Casty and Flesh told me in the days after the incident. A year later I still wondered about it though. I wondered what led Sammy to down a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka and walk out into the snow. I wondered what would lead anybody to do such a thing.
So, a year after the incident, I emailed Sam: “As you may know, I’m writing a creative thesis this year for Senior Composition and I wanted to ask your permission to write a story about–well you. Let me know if I’m totally in the wrong to ask you. Also, be completely honest with me if you don’t want me to write about you. I won’t be mad at all. I’m really just asking you if I can. If so, I want to interview you and I’ll buy you lots of beer or alcohol of your choice and we can get hammered together while we talk. And if you say no, we can and must still get hammered together anyway. Let me know.”
Sam agreed to do the interview. As I followed him into his dorm room, I had flashbacks to when a few guys on the team and I ate magic mushrooms out by the lake on campus and Sammy, who was high from smoking weed, guided us around the woods, looking like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, which just so happen to be his favorite books. I remembered being on shrooms and seeing leaves wave in front of me and plants look like they were colored around with a highlighter and I wanted to express what I felt, but all I could say was, “I don’t know. I just don’t know.” But somehow, Sam knew exactly what I meant.
“I know what you mean,” he said. “When you experience an altered state, you start to question whether what you’re seeing now is actually the way things are and if you’ve been seeing things wrong the whole time. And then you wonder, is this how other people see things?”
The walls of Sam’s room were decorated with blue and orange posters of New York Mets pitchers. His closet consisted of everything New York Mets. Mets Polos, Mets pants, Mets jackets, even Mets underwear. On his bookshelf, surrounded by paintings of Japanese samurai were Chuang Tzu’s Basic Writings and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I opened the mini fridge and started stacking the 12-pack of beers that I had brought over. Immediately, Sam lay down on his bed like a patient in a psychiatrist’s office. Even his beard looked a little bit like New York Mets-orange. I turned on my digital voice recorder.
Sam’s a very physical person. He often talks to you just by poking you or punching your stomach in a loving way and you always want to play along. We have this way of saying “Hello” where we flip our middle and pointer fingers at each other like we’re flicking a baseball and, in a loud and high voice that comes from the throat, squeal, “Hegh!” But, now I just needed him to talk and I worried that he would tense up with the tape recorder on. I had written down a list of questions I wanted to ask Sam, but there was one in particular I wanted to ask the most. I wanted to ask him about the night he almost killed himself; but how do you ask someone about that? I thought I’d wait until we each had at least a few beers in our system. So instead, I started by asking him the easiest question.
“Let’s start,” I said, “with baseball. When did you start playing?”
“I hate to say this, but I was very good in little league,” he told me, “Because I was one of those kids that growing up, people told me I could do anything. You know how when you’re in school, and it’s a public school, and they pick out the people who are good at things and say you can do anything? I had people tell me that stuff my whole life. Teachers and coaches. That does awful things for your ego.”
He told me about how he was recruited to pitch at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York by Head Coach John Martin. Martin found out about him from another school’s coach who told him, “Sam can play, but he’s a weird kid.”
But even while he told me all this stuff, it was clear that we both knew I wanted to talk about more than just baseball. We both knew there was more to his story and for some reason he kept getting on these tangents about nature. He told me he remembers the first time he wandered into the woods. When he was seven, he was playing a game he had created with his two brothers that involved hitting a hockey puck with a tennis racket. They had broken too many windows that way, so this time they moved farther away from the house. His Connecticut backyard had two acres of open space that ran up against a wall of trees that stretched for miles. Sam and his brothers decided to play as far away from the house as possible so they wouldn’t shatter any more windows and they ended up playing right up against the woods.
Someone hit the puck and it sailed into the trees and Sam went to retrieve it. There, he remembers, he saw a fallen tree. Its roots were pulled out so that the grass and the dirt created a wall like a cave or an overhang. I listened as he told me this and marveled at how that image has stuck with him.
I asked him if there were any other times that he remembers walking through the woods and he told me about the time his mother thought he had run away from home one day after school when really he was following the stream behind his house. The stream kept breaking off into various tributaries and he found himself walking alongside the easiest ones to follow for three or four hours. It was cold out and there was some snow on the ground. The stream was partly frozen. But he had found himself thinking too much at home and he decided he needed the fresh air to clear his head.
He followed the stream for three hours in the cold and the snow. When he returned home, clearheaded, his mom was frantic. She thought he had taken his wallet with him, jumped on a bus and run away just like her uncle who ran away from home when he was sixteen and fell in with a bad crowd.
“My mom worries about everything. She says that everyone in her family is either brilliant or retarded,” Sammy laughed.
I asked Sam why he went walking through the woods, but he said he doesn’t remember the exact reasons. I thought if I asked him what his social life was like in high school, maybe I could piece it together. Maybe I could understand. He said he didn’t hang out with anybody from school. He said some of the boys thought he was gay because he hadn’t talked to a girl, and wouldn’t talk to a girl until he was in college, until he met Cait. He said part of the reason he couldn’t make friends was that he couldn’t even begin to understand people. He couldn’t empathize. He could sympathize, sure. But despite having an IQ of 155, putting him in the top .1 percentile of people, Sam couldn’t put himself in other people’s shoes, couldn’t even begin to understand people’s motivations. Instead, he would ascribe orders to people’s social interactions so that he could understand them. That is, he tried to understand people as though he was observing a lab experiment.
I listened and thought about what it would feel like to always look at people as though you were looking through a cage at mice that you could just pick up with your fingers and move. How it would make you feel like the perpetual outsider. You couldn’t even begin to understand why people did things, so you didn’t even begin to try. You just observed, not wondering what was going through people’s heads, taking all thoughts out of the equation, only judging based on actions, based on cause and effect.
“But then again,” Sam said, “I don’t believe anybody actually has the ability to empathize.”
I asked Sam about a time he was in the car, driving home from baseball practice; a time when it seemed he was expressing empathy. The son of an oil entrepreneur and the son of the CEO of a major publishing company agreed that anybody, no matter what, if they wanted to badly enough, could be successful. I reminded Sam that he had chimed in, “But people are born with different circumstances. Not everyone is born with the same privileges.”
I asked him, “Wasn’t that empathy?”
“No,” he said. “That’s just not being blind.”
While he was growing up, Sam’s parents made him see three psychologists. They all tried to decipher why he would go wandering or why he couldn’t make friends, but nobody could explain it—at least nobody would explain it to Sam. They called it ADHD or OCD. Part of the problem was Sam felt unable to talk about personal issues to a person he didn’t know. He didn’t feel comfortable doing it.
It wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he realized his social awkwardness could be labeled with a scientific term. He randomly stumbled into his mother’s room one afternoon and on her dresser was a book about kids with Aspergers.
“I opened it up to a random page and started reading it,” said Sam. “And I was like, ‘Oh…ooh…oooh… That’s me!”
He doesn’t remember what the symptoms were that triggered this self-realization. Maybe it was the repetitive tendencies, the inability to empathize, the slight obsessions (his for the New York Mets), or the need to order objects (“My mom loves to tell this story,” Sam said. “I used to go around ordering little toy animals and everything, by various different colors, shapes or similarities.”). Or maybe it was his inability to adjust to new social circumstances (which would explain why he was unable to talk to girls— because he grew up with two brothers—or why he was unable to talk to psychologists). What he does remember though, was that his mother walked in on him reading the books and all he did was look at her out of those dark eyes of his above his patchy, red beard. He didn’t cry. He didn’t ask why.
“Aspergers doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong. It just means I’m different. But I already knew that.”
When I asked Sam to explain what Aspergers was, he told me that was the single hardest question you can ask someone with that type of autism spectrum disorder.
“It’s really funny because one of the things that’s hard is it’s hard to articulate an idea of what you know,” he said.
“But you’re so good at explaining the Theory of Relativity so even I can understand it,” I told him.
“I guess,” he said. “I don’t know.”
“When you try to articulate something, what happens?” I pressed further.
“Um, I don’t know.”
“You’re doing a good job right now, talking to me, telling me everything about yourself,” I said, trying to boost his confidence.
“Sorta,” he said. “I don’t know, I,” he paused, unable to find the words. Then he laughed. “Well there you go. I believe that’s what you call irony.”
We were each about three beers deep by this point in the interview and I thought it was time to bring up the night Sam downed 1.75 liters of vodka alone. The night he wandered into the snow. The night he almost didn’t come back. I popped open two more beers, one for each of us, and then I popped the question.
“I blacked it out,” he said.
“You don’t remember anything?” I asked him, discouraged by the possibility that my whole story was now on its deathbed.
“I remember playing video games and drinking half of the bottle of vodka but I don’t remember anything else.”
“So you don’t remember why you did it?”
“Not really,” he said. “I’ve gotten better but I used to be way up and down with my feelings. That was one of those times I was depressed. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one of those. I used to think I was bipolar. There’re just little things that can set off big things I guess.”
I asked him what those little things were. But he said he didn’t remember. I asked him if it had to do with the fact that he wasn’t invited to the party. He said probably.
I thought about one time when Sam was doing his physics homework and playing beer pong at the same time. He’s a double major in physics and math and plans on getting a PHD after college.
“Physics is the way the world works,” he told me. “That’s all physicists are trying to do. Understand the way the world works.”
That night he played a game or two depending on whether he was winning or not, and then he sat by the table writing what looked like code, with all its algorithms, in his notebook. Casty was there too and at one point, Casty took Sam’s notebook, and jokingly started writing in it. “I’m gonna solve this problem for you,” he told Sam and started writing down random letters and numbers, brackets and matrices, and everyone in the room—at least everyone except Sam—knew that Casty was just kidding. When Casty was done, Sam looked at what Casty had written and started yelling.
“Casty!” Sam shouted. “Casty, you can’t just isolate the variable like that!”
The whole room started laughing.
I wondered what other little things built up inside his head, though. I asked Sam if his downing of the vodka and walking out into the snow alone had to do with Cait at all. He said probably. Cait was the first girl he ever really talked to. She had red hair that always looked burnt by a hairdryer. He met her through James, a fellow Vassar student he knew in high school. There wasn’t any attraction between Sam and Cait at the beginning. Like Sam, she was a math major, and they bonded over their schoolwork because Sam could sympathize with that, but only to a certain extent.
“Cait would always stress over grades and I couldn’t understand that,” Sammy said. “I’d just be like, ‘You got a bad grade. It fucking happens. You can’t change the fucking past.’ I guess that would annoy her.”
It didn’t happen suddenly. He can’t put a timeframe on it. It was a gradual movement, probably a result of, Sam admits now, “a confusion of feelings because I had never been friends with a girl before.” But there came a time during his freshman year when Sam’s attitude toward Cait shifted. He saw her less as a friend and more as a potential lover.
I remember talking to Sam about Cait during his sophomore year. I remember how sad he would get when she ignored him. We’d be sitting around, drinking and smoking, and talking about girls as we always had done and then Sam would chime in, “I haven’t even kissed a girl yet!”
We told him that if he wanted to lose his virginity, he should just go to “The Mug,” an underground dance-club located beneath the main building of Vassar College where drunk, horny students pack onto a small dance floor and lose themselves in the darkness of the room and sweat of another person’s body. But Sam didn’t want to go to the Mug. He didn’t want just any girl. He wanted Cait.
He didn’t tell her how he felt about her until the summer when he sent her a text message. Anybody who knows Sam knows that he expresses himself through text messages, through his quoting of a Wu Tang Clan or Metallica songs that will fill up your inbox for days and back up all other incoming text messages. But the text message he sent Cait wasn’t a quote. It simply said, “I think I like you as more than a friend.” He knew before she even sent a message back that it wasn’t going to go over well. And his first reaction after pressing the send button on his phone was, “Fuck.”
As I listened to Sam talk, I looked at the time on the tape recorder. Over an hour had passed, and I felt it was time to wrap up the interview. It was clear that he either didn’t remember what happened the night Flesh and Casty found him or he was choosing not to remember.
I didn’t want to end our conversation on such a depressing note though, so I brought up something else I had heard happened to him at the end of his sophomore year.
“I heard you had your first kiss,” I told him.
He tilted his head back and laughed. “It was like one of those kisses twelve year olds have,” he said.
He was in the very room that he so desperately had wanted to be in on the night of the incident and he was sitting on the bed next to two girls, a brunette named Tess and a blonde named Amanda, at a party.
“It’s hard for me to describe all that much of it because I was pretty drunk,” Sam told me, “but I guess I was just talking with Tess and Amanda and somehow Amanda’s just like, ‘Okay, do you want me to kiss you?’”
Then somebody turned off the light because everybody in the party knew what was going on and that this was going to be Sam’s first kiss and Amanda leaned over and pecked Sam on the lips.
After talking, Sam and I hugged. Before I left he gave me two books to take with me: Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Chuang Tzu’s Basic Writings.
“When I go on my walks,” he told me as he placed the books in my hand, “it’s just good to clear my head. When I go, there are things that distract me, like if I see something in the woods. It’s all about the quest for mind. The lack of distracting thoughts. There’s like interactions and the lack of self. Lots of Buddhists preach that there is no self because everything causes what you are and everything influences what you are so your just part of this great whole.”
A few days after my interview with Sammy, I skimmed through the book of Chuang Tzu’s Basic Writings. (The other book he gave me is still unopened on my bookshelf.) I read the Basic Writings, trying to figure out a way to piece together Sam’s life in those moments before Casty and Flesh found him.
I imagined him sitting alone at his desk, playing video games, drinking from a bottle of vodka, trying so hard not to think, trying so hard to clear his mind of all thoughts, to achieve the zone, or The Way.
In baseball, the zone is a state in which you can’t hear the crowd, can’t see the people in the stands, can’t even think—a state in which you’re so focused and so prepared to execute the pitch or the swing that you not only block out all your surroundings, you block out all thoughts. Your mind is empty. The rest is purely physical.
In the philosophy of Chuang Tzu, this is called The Way—when one’s skill has become so much a part of him that he merely acts instinctively and spontaneously and, without knowing why, achieves success. Tzu uses the metaphor of a totally free and purposeless journey in which the enlightened man wanders through all of creation, enjoying its delights without ever becoming attached to any one part of it.
Reading Chuang Tzu’s philosophy, I imagined Sam’s head was too cluttered that night. There were too many distractions. For one, he hadn’t been pitching well. He could throw hard, but his pitches were all over the place. He couldn’t find the plate, and most of all he was inconsistent. For another, his friends on the baseball team had forgotten to invite him over that night to a party and weren’t responding to his text messages. And then, there was Cait. But it was never just one thing.
For Sam, it was always a collection of things, building up and ultimately making him feel as though there was nothing left to do but just wander. So that’s what he would do. He decided he would take a walk. He had wandered before many times, whenever he needed to clear his head. When he needed nature to take his mind off distracting thoughts. But this would be the first time he did so drunk.
I imagined him sitting at his desk, alone in his room, and opening Chuang Tzu’s book to take his mind off of Cait. I imagined that he read a passage from the section called Mastering Life that goes like this:
When a drunken man falls from a carriage, though the carriage may be going very fast, he won’t be killed. He has bones and joints the same as other men, and yet he is not injured as they would be, because his spirit is whole. He didn’t know he was riding, and he doesn’t know he has fallen out. Life and death, alarm and terror do not enter his breast, and so he can bang against things without fear of injury.
Then, I imagined, he shut the book. He took one more swig from his bottle of vodka and put it inside a backpack. He wandered through the hall of his dorm, stumbled down the three flights of stairs, and made his way out the front door. There was a foot of snow on the ground but all he had on was a Mets t-shirt and Mets shorts. That was okay though. He couldn’t feel the cold and even if he could have, he might have welcomed it as some sort of punishment he felt he deserved. As he walked outside, his night became a blur. He remembers texting, but he doesn’t remember who or what.
The rest is black.
All that resides in the darkness of Sam’s memory, I imagine. The rest, I can fill in with facts by talking to Casty and Flesh. According to Casty, after looking for Sammy for nearly an hour, he stood with Flesh in front of the gargantuan, castle-like library, underneath a long branch that extended out from a London Plane tree. And all of a sudden, for a reason he can’t explain, he felt calm. Scared, sure—but calm like a negotiator having to reason with Sam, or like Chuang Tzu’s wanderer who, in the presence of nature has cleared his head. He talked slowly.
“Sam,” he said. “You have to tell me where you are because Flesh and I are going to be looking for you all night and I know you don’t want to ruin our nights. We’re going to look for you all night in the snow and the freezing cold so you might as well tell us where you are. Had I known you weren’t invited or had I known you didn’t know about it, I would have invited you over. I would have said, ‘Sammy come on, what are you doing? You should drink with us because we’re all alcoholics.’”
There was a long pause before Sam replied.
“I’m by the tree,” he said.
Casty and Flesh looked around. All they saw was the stone library and a foot of snow. They didn’t see Sam.
“Where is the tree?” Casty asked. “Where are you?”
“I’m by the tree,” Sam repeated.
“What tree?” Casty asked again. “There are a lot of trees on campus. You have to be more specific than that.”
“The tree on the hill,” said Sam.
Casty started running. Flesh followed, kicking up his knees so that his feet wouldn’t get caught in the snow.
“Where are we going?” he asked. “What tree is he talking about?”
“There’s a tree behind the physics building,” yelled Casty. “I’ve watched him go there before.”
They ran to the academic quad where a statue of Benjamin Franklin stood before a brick building. Behind the building, up a hill, overlooking a lake they could just barely make out a figure laying on the ground. They ran closer. It was Sam. He was on his back, fallen beneath a tree, hugging a handle of vodka that was now a quarter of the way empty in one hand and pressing a phone against his ear with his other hand. An empty, open backpack lay in the snow next to him. Right when Sam saw Casty and Flesh, he jumped up, leaving an imprint of his body in the snow. Sam wrapped his arms around them both and started crying on their shoulders. Flesh and Casty cried too.
Afterward, Flesh and Casty led Sam to the room where everyone was drinking and having a good time, and we all welcomed Sam and yelled, “Where have you been all night?” to him. Sam was belligerent and couldn’t sit still and he started knocking over chairs and tables and ultimately, Flesh had to take him across campus to his dorm room. Sam told Flesh he was fine and said he was going to sleep. So Flesh left, but a few minutes later when he came back to check on Sam, Sam was gone again. This time he had gone to the bathroom where he was on the floor, vomiting. Flesh called the emergency services and two students and a security guard checked his pulse and vitals and deemed he was okay because he could walk down the hall and back without falling over himself. Then they left, and Sam fell asleep in his bed.
Writing teaches us how to love. A week after I interviewed Sammy, I wrote my first draft of his story. Almost everything was the same, except for the order of events, and one large difference: I was nearly absent from the piece. For the most part, the same Sammy was present: The one who drank a bottle of vodka and nearly killed himself. But I would lay awake during the nights after I wrote the first draft, thinking to myself that it doesn’t encompass all of Sam; that nothing I ever wrote would truly encapsulate the whole of who he is. I let the piece sit for a while, thinking at times I might abandon it altogether. I saw Sam often during that time but I never told him I finished a rough draft of his story. I didn’t show him it either because I didn’t feel like it did him justice. And whenever someone would bring up my writing, I could always sense Sam wanting to ask me if I ever ended up writing a story about him. But he never did. I don’t think he was one to pry.
Months went by, and at parties I would try to study him from afar, to pick up on any details I had missed that might be of use to the story. But nothing I saw seemed to solve the problem of what was missing. So, one day I decided to just come right out and ask him. We were at my house, playing beer pong, and between games I went up to him.
“I’m trying to write your story,” I told him. “But I just can’t figure it out. How should I go about it?”
Sam shrugged and gave one of his “Ionno’s” that sounded like he was speaking and gurgling mouthwash at the same time.
“You’re the writer,” he said. “I don’t know how to write. That’s your job. You see me.”
I heard someone say something similar to me a few weeks later. I had recently broken up with my girlfriend but one night, we found ourselves talking and crying and yelling into the morning hours. It’s funny. The nights we stayed awake fighting were the only nights we cried. Our conversations were never deeper, are hearts never more open, and our thoughts never more candid then on a night when we could not bare to look at one another. She sat on the steps in the hallway, banging her head up against a wall, crying and telling me how much she loved me and asking me why I couldn’t love her back. I told her I didn’t know how to love.
“Love,” I said, “is the least descriptive word in the English dictionary. What does love even mean?”
“It doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “It’s something you feel.”
“What do you feel when you love me then?” I asked. “Can you describe it?”
“You’re the writer,” she sobbed. “You go figure it out.”
It was almost the same thing Sammy had told me a few weeks before. And I realized that what was missing was love—the love I feel for him when I talk to him or when I listen to him. I couldn’t sleep after that. One night, the first sentence of the story came to me like a dream. “The night Sammy almost killed himself a bunch of guys on the baseball team and I….”
And I, it said. Once I was a part of the story, the rest flowed from there. When Sam told me, “You see me,” he was telling me to write what I see. Maybe this isn’t who Sam is, but it’s the Sam I have come to know and the one I have come to love.
When I was finished with the final piece, I sent him a copy in an email. The email said: “This is the story I wrote about you. This is the second draft. Like I told you before, the first one didn’t go over well, and I think this one is much better, because in the end it is as much about my relationship to you as it is about you. And I may never fully get you (I don’t think anybody can ever get anybody else fully) but I think the story understands that. Anyway, I’m sending it to you because I think you might like to read what I wrote about you. Let me know what you think. And let me know if there’s anything in there that you feel uncomfortable about. I hope you pick up on the love and compassion with which this piece is written. Hit me up tomorrow and we’ll get lunch and talk. I hope you enjoy.”
I waited. An hour later, I got a response in the form of a text message from Sammy.
“I think you have a pretty dam good grasp on who I am,” it said. “But, you messed up on one thing. I drank much more that night.”
I didn’t know what to write back. So instead, I just read the message over a few times, smiled, and put my phone in my pocket.
You see, I’m no good with words. That’s why I write. Because I’m constantly searching for the words that I will never find to say to someone, I love you.
 Chuang Tzu, Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964), 6.
 Tzu, Basic Writings, 120.