The only time Rob and I ever had a private conversation was the night before Aaron’s wedding, when we were the last ones up out of the groomsmen staying at my house. Aside from that, I wasn’t sure if I’ve ever connected with him on a personal level; I’ve been discovering how differently some behave when others are around, and with Aaron or Mel in the mix, he’s got even more to prove than usual.
But I could always tell that underneath the brash and indomitable impression he gives the world is a wisdom not shared by many. It was exactly that kind of awareness I was looking to be in the company of, so I took the chance to visit when it would be just the two of us. Even though we’re so different in so many ways, it turns out the things we have in common are more significant, and I discovered he’s exactly the kind of friend I need right now.
The man-cave mostly features posters of comic book heroes and cartoon figurines, the only pictures being found in a little frame next to the computer. It was strange to see two of myself in there next to one of him sucking back a beer with Trevor. That was back when I rocked my hair with a part down the middle and occasionally some solid colour, though I don’t remember anything about it otherwise — a strange anomaly in a person with a photographic memory. Lost the hoodie, still have the coat, won’t be caught wearing those glasses again.
The only other people who have a picture of me in their homes are Aaron and Alex. I always take those photographs as a telling sign of your relationship with someone. It means they care enough to want you around even when you’re not there. I guess that’s why each of them have more photos of me than both my parents combined, and why Rob calls me brother.
The nurse comes every day to change the dressings and keep an eye out for infection. Aside from the listing hobble, you’d never have an idea of the punishment this body has borne underneath, until a wince when the tube drags against his shirt. That and the fact that there isn’t a bottle of Blue in his hand. Otherwise, the accident didn’t change Rob at all. He’s still the happy-go-lucky, take-it-on-the-chin kind of guy. To him, the world has always been simple, an equation that can be solved with muscle and mass, and he carries both answers in spades.
Under any other circumstance, I’d hate him. He’s obnoxious, stubborn, and proud; a type I don’t get along with. But I’m also on his good side, which means he’s loyal and loving unlike any other, and he shows this every time he squeezes the breath out of my chest until I’m weak and coming up for air. Through him, I’m learning to understand and accept the people I’d otherwise turn away from.