Greg died doing something risky and foolish, rushing home too late on his motorcycle from somewhere he probably shouldn’t have been, knowing him. Knowing him, this is probably the way he’d have chosen to die if he’d ever thought about it: still in possession of at least the echo of the wild beauty of his youth. Bright, bright, selfish, shining, green-eyed, fickle lover. I’m far older now than he was when he taught me how to be in grown-up love, then taught me harder lessons about how to live past a shattered heart. When I heard that he’d died, some part of me that had always lived in a snow-globe-frozen moment where it was possible that one day I would turn around in an airport, in a dim bar at 2:00 in the afternoon, on the sidewalk at 4:00 in the morning with my ears still ringing from some thrashing concert --- and see him standing there with his hair always in his eyes and his unshakable confidence. And now I never will.
The sky there was the bright colorlessness of hot metal, the air was impossible to breathe. But Tariq showed me how to drive on dunes, took me through the back streets of Khobar, walked with me through the impossible glitter of Harrod’s in Jeddah. He let me ride his horses in the surf, and kept the disapproving police from lecturing me about being young and happy in public. When I consider, now, the risks he took, so that I could be young, and happy. For twenty years, I have wondered how my life would have been different, if I’d said yes. But I couldn’t imagine a life in a beautiful house cage, in Saudi, and I said no. But, as we’ve gotten older, as the chains of our decisions have spooled down into puzzled disappointment, I want us to be young and laughing under a bright sky still. I want him to be happy, somehow. And I need him to get well. I don’t have the courage to let go of another dead lover.