In all of life, I’ve had the feeling I call warmth for eight women and one man. It can be thought of as loving someone as a friend, just as they are, without wanting anything from them other than their friendship. What you want is simply to exist together with them for a while. It can also be thought of as resonating with someone, the kind of resonance that makes you feel warm. But never before had I felt such warmth just by itself, in a space so devoid of other attractions to the person. And perhaps that’s what made it so good with Anita.
It was pure, unadulterated warmth...just that.

I had the warmest, sweetest, tenderest feeling for her. I could enjoy that feeling, could be warmed by it, just by being with her. I didn’t even have to have her attention then; many evenings as I waited for her to finish up before our walk back, I’d be sitting at her desk doing this or that while she worked, but still I felt warm. As I’d told her several times, it was
the pleasure of her company. I often wondered what that warmth depended on, what gave it its life. Now I’ll never now.

There has never been another woman whom I so enjoyed simply being with, existing with in the same time and space. With Charleen and Alma, there was a lot more going on, and all those things were very good but they somehow diluted the warmth. I hope everyone comes to know this feeling before they die; there’s simply nothing like it in all of life.

Anyone can appreciate attention and money, but only someone who has felt that kind of warmth for another person can know that it’s of infinitely greater value. After my warm feeling for her had died and after my friendship for her had ended, I told her that the closest thing she’ll ever find in all of life to that warm feeling is the love her father has for her. I know because I, too, am a father.

She once told me about some cosmetic dental work she was going to have done, and in the card I gave her on her birthday in 2008, I told her it would make her smile more beautiful only to herself and to those who have yet to know her. For me, that was true because of the warmth I felt for her.

There is a special kind of warmth you can feel in life, and once you’ve felt it, its absence can, over time, become a special kind of coldness. It’s like freezing to death from the inside out…exactly like that. That feeling can drag you down…it has enough weight.
But she had an almost magical ability to make me feel warm…

The coldness starts in your spirit, and from there it spreads throughout your body. You care less and less about the things you once took joy in, and eventually you die simply because you no longer have the will to live. They’ll say you died of injuries suffered in an accident, or of a disease, or of even of old age, but they’ll be wrong. It will have been the coldness that killed you.

Every card and every note, every gift I gave her and every little thing I left for her, every e-mail and every spoken word...they all made me feel warm. The warmth, and all the little things I did for her, were what I think of as
the romance of friends...special friends in a special way. I liked sharing all those things with her just as I liked finding them for myself…exactly like that. It was simply a way to share myself.

Warmth is not a feeling that has to go anywhere. It’s its own thing, a final thing, not something that’s good only as a stepping stone on the way to something else. This was its sign: every time I talked with her, no matter how good or bad I felt before, I always left feeling better. If she had known that feeling, she would have recognized it as the feeling I had for her.

Sometimes when I was telling her about my weekend or about something in my past, I’d say I was
The World’s Most Romantic Man©. Once, not to be outdone, she said, “I’m romantic.” She didn’t elaborate and I didn’t ask; we both knew it wasn’t true. I was imagining what passed as romantic in her world, and I thought maybe a couple candles and some sexy lingerie. That’s not romantic, that’s just an uninspired textbook setting for having sex. Real romance comes from within, and either you have it or you don’t. And even if you have it, you’ve still got to be with the right person in order to bring it out of you; it’s simply not possible to be romantic with the wrong person. You can have all the right trappings, but your touch will be off. And if it’s not off with the wrong person, then it’s never been right with anyone.

In the end, we were like two people who’ve been through a lot together, just not the same thing. She threw away my friendship for the common thing that it was not instead of being able to enjoy it for the rare thing that it was. It all depends on what you’ve known in life...

She hasn’t had the right kind of experiences in life to understand me. But perhaps one day she will have those experiences, and perhaps she will think of me
then. I will think of her often…as the friend who got away.

I’d always sensed a great degree of reserve in her, and while I was a friend to her, I wanted to get to know more of her because I was a friend and because I cared about her and about the quality of her life. Afterwards, I wished I’d known more of her simply out of intellectual curiosity.

I watched the movie
Fight Club the other day. It was hilarious in the beginning but then it got into something else and became a complete mess. I’ve never seen another movie turn so quickly from good to bad or from bad to good. In the good part, Edward Norton’s character was talking about all the single-serving stuff on air flights—condiments, meals, even acquaintances. It reminded me of being Anita. We spent time together on numerous occasions, but she really was a single-serving friend in that, for her, every one of our times together was all about the same thing—attention and money. It was a single-serving not in terms of time, but in terms of what was in her.

No one can be as small as she appeared to be at the end of my friendship for her, and so I never really knew her at all—not while I was a friend to her and not afterwards. I’d love to have been able to draw her out of her shell, to see what she really looked like—perhaps more beautiful, perhaps less. And to find out what caused her to build that shell...

She will grow old prematurely because of her total self-absorption and indifference to others. It’s like playing a board game and landing on the
Go to the End of the Game square, but instead of winning, you lose. To really live, you’ve got to keep growing in some way, and you can’t do that by being selfish, simply because you won’t get the right opportunities in life.

If you have a good heart, you never really lose anything you’ve ever really had. You just find more and more. The things I found with Anita were not new things within her, but things that were freed within me by the warmth I felt for her. In contrast, the things I found with Charleen and Julie and Alma were partly in them and partly in me. The difference is that those three women brought something to our relationship whereas Anita brought nothing to our friendship. With Anita, there was nothing to be lost, only some old things that could have been destroyed, but I didn’t let that happen. I’m gonna need those things again someday...

For me, there will forever be two of her: the one I loved as a friend, and the one who really existed.

It saddens me that, of all the men she’s known in life, I’ll be the one to miss her the most. I’ll miss the warm feelings I had for her, the others will simply miss having sex or being taken care of. But neither they nor I will really be missing
her. I’ll be missing what she brought out in me, and they’ll be missing what she gave them.

Ours was a classic case of mismatch. If I like you because you’re beautiful and you like me because I’m humorous, that can work as long as the things we
want from our likes are compatible. And that generally means we simply like being together, each for our own reasons. But if my liking of your beauty causes me to want to have sex with you, that won’t work if your liking of my humor doesn’t cause you to want to have sex with me. For me, it was the case that the warmth I felt for her caused me to want to spend time with her and to do things to make her life better. For her, it was the case that her desire for attention and money caused her merely to put up with spending time with me. That was the mismatch, and it created a disturbance in the warmth I felt for her, so I stopped spending time with her and doing things for her. That in turn caused her to no longer be getting what she desired from me. An ugly chain of events, but it did resolve the mismatch...

While I was a friend to her, I always knew she liked all the attention; that was obvious to me and to others. But I thought she felt some friendship for
me, that, for her, it wasn’t just about someone giving her attention. In retrospect, I suppose it was simply that her actions were somewhat consistent with friendship, and that, because I was a friend to her, I that naturally led me to feel she was a friend to me. But all I ever really was to her was simply a source of attention and money, a reason for her to feel good about herself and a way of saving money to use on other things in life. It amazes me when I think that, in the end, after all that time together and after all I’d done for her, this is what I was to her: the one person in life whom she wanted to stiff for a pile of cash. It makes me feel like those sickening images you see of birds that have been caught in an oil spill at sea or on a lake.

It was once so easy for me to see a whole person when I looked at her. But in the end, I no longer saw a whole person; there was simply too much missing for her to be whole. It’s not necessarily that those things had never been there, or that they’d once been there but no longer were there. I don’t know the answer to that, I just know that I could no longer see them.

Now I see her as shards, and I wonder if they’re all there. I see her from a cubist set of perspectives that don’t come together to form a coherent image. For me, it will always be just pieces of her…
except for the warmth. But that was all in me...

Until the circumstances surrounding the ending of my friendship for her, I never knew how small and cold the human heart could be. Now I do, and it’s something I’ll never forget. Not until I’m dying, and then only because I’ll be thinking nothing but warm and happy thoughts. In the meantime, thoughts of my time with her will continue to sicken my heart, but they’ll also make me happy not to be such a person.

What most people think of as evil, I think of as simply big and cold—a lot of feeling, and all of it cold. She’s not what most people would call evil simply because her heart isn’t big enough.

My time with her has taught me that unless you’re very circumspect in life—in the things you do and in whom you befriend—you have to be willing either to screw people or to be screwed by them. Paradoxically, screwing people is the risk you take when you’re a weak person, and being screwed by people is the risk you take when you’re a strong person.

Once I had this thought about her heart:
In this place nothing grows except what is lied to. When there’s a need but when one’s heart isn’t right for any kind of real feeling to grow, lies will suffice—either lying or being lied to. Money, attention, and sex...

I could not bear to look at her face now, the face I had once found so warm, simply because she would no longer look that way to me.
Spiritual disfigurement...

Now, for me, there is a toxicity to her that is the very antithesis of the warmth I once felt for her. For the rest of my life, I hope never to encounter a heart as small and ignoble as hers.

The warm feelings I had for her were brought to life by things inside her. And eventually they were laid to rest by things inside her. I wonder if they were the same things or different things, if it was just my perception of them that had changed...

If you’re suffering, there comes a time when it’s no longer about simple pain. All pain can do is to hurt you and finally to kill you. But the worst part is seeing yourself become less and be diminished before you die. Death is inevitable, but you want at all cost to avoid being diminished when there is no hope of regrowth.

Of all the things I thought might eventually kill me, I never figured one would be that someone to whom I was such a good friend would, by needlessly and maliciously lying about me, deprive me of the work I so enjoyed. I always figured it would be a car accident or one of my bad habits, or more probably the feeling of coldness I’ve felt since the end of my time with Charleen. You never know...

Lately I’ve felt my time is drawing nigh, and I’ve thought about whom I would wish to have all the happiness I could have had in a longer life. Women like Charleen and Alma don’t need any help; happiness will come to them simply because of the way they are. I’d pick my friend Lori, but I think she’s already found happiness. And so I wish all my future happiness on Anita. She’s going to need some help, and if she gets it, it might help her to become a good person; it’s generally easier to make changes when you’re in a position of strength than when you’re in a position of weakness.

But I’m not sure she would know what to do with any real happiness. If you’ve never been happy in life, there eventually comes a time when it’s no longer possible for you to be happy. What has come to
pass as happiness in your life eventually becomes your archetype of happiness. That’s why she keeps going back to the men who have already treated her poorly; something about all that passes as happiness in her world. I would like very much to see that change for her, but I fear it is a wish made in vain. She moves through this world as an automaton in the grip of a self-interest that consumes her and anyone who gets close to her, and she is utterly bereft of what we think of as a soul.