And so even as I realise that he is a smokescreen, I think of Bruno at times like a Monday evening, 6pm, walking home along the Backs after a few hours in the Squire and thinking about dinner, about the solitude of my room, about the disproportionate effort that goes into washing up, about curry, about restaurants, the way having curry in a restaurant for dinner differs from having a sandwich in a cafe in the afternoon. I think about the plans that he would have made, the messages that he would have sent through the day, and even as I realise that he is a smokescreen, I think about this anyway as I think about dinner, what I would like to have, and where. But not with whom, except Virginia Woolf and messages from Mag that I have yet to reply to; I think not about the who, just the what, the where, and I am caught between heading straight to town and going home first to fetch Virginia.
So dinner with Virginia, then, and I love her company, the sharpness of her insights, the elegance of her words, but sometimes it is not enough to have a conversation with a dead writer. I want to occupy my time and my mind with words from writers that I want to be, delighting in these words, sinking into them and letting time drift by unnoticed; but my mind has too much space for other things. Other people. Another person. Matt. Even though he is a smokescreen, I should not be thinking about Bruno, but I am as I walk home on a Monday evening, thinking about dinner and the nobody that I will have it with except a dead writer.
What are these games that we play with each other? These games that cramp my hand as I am seized with the urge to send a text message; these games that tell me to hold back, as if an inaction can plausibly goad another into action. Maybe, maybe not. I don't wait around to find out. I give in to my impulse and a frank desire to see him, send a text message asking if he is still around, knowing that he will answer in the affirmative. He is tired, but I steal a few minutes from him anyway as I walk out of college, carrying with me an incessant boredom covering up a sense of loss from the loss of company such as Barry, such as Bruno even though he is a smokescreen, and I cross the road to where he is, standing outside the place where we met with his bicycle.
I know that I need him more than he needs me. This doesn't matter in the moment when I tell him that I'm feeling bored and restless, and he pulls me to him, kisses me, and wraps his arms around my body, squeezing it tight. It doesn't matter that I need him more than he needs me because it is logical, for he is from here, and I am not, and a close friend has left and I am alone with my thoughts and my own company for most of the day, but he is on his feet, surrounded by people, for most of the day. And this current feeling, him holding on to me and hugging me tight for the many seconds that I wish would suspend time, makes it not matter. I don't realise how much I needed this feeling until he's making me feel it. I tell him that I'm bored and he says that we'll go somewhere when he gets his paycheck.
Cambridge is a too-convenient scapegoat. It is about my own mind. It is about going along with the flow, doing what is expected, and ignoring, all this time, the thing that makes my heart beat. It is not about Cambridge. It is about me. It has always been about me.