I’m drunk. We’re hiding in a beer bar called Beer because it’s 96 degrees outside and we don’t have AC. Beer does. I stand on the bench we’re sitting on to take this photo. It’s not very good. I’m drunk, so I don’t care. Eventually, this will become my most popular photo by a large, large margin.
We leave Beer for dinner. I’m eating a burrito. It’s late. Alyse’s sister and her family are in Hawaii on vacation. They text us to ask if we’ve heard from Chloe recently. Alyse suspects something bad is happening. I say, “What’s the worst that could happen? Chloe wouldn’t kill herself. She loves her cat too much.”
Alyse gets a phone call from her sister saying that they think Chloe committed suicide.
I’ve never felt more sober. I take the phone from her as Alyse starts to cry. On the other end of the phone, her sister is crying. I don’t have emotions yet. I need information. She puts on her husband. He explains. I tell him to keep searching the internet to try and confirm it. I leave half a burrito and we hurry home.
We confirm it.
Chloe dated one of my best friends for almost three years. That’s how I know her. She was a wonderful, complicated, beautiful, horrible woman.
He’s asleep in Northern Ireland right now. Shit. He’s supposed to be on a flight to Portland in the morning. Shit, shit. He can’t find out from a text or an email or a tweet. We need to get a hold of him. Shit shit shit.
After an hour of trying every couple of minutes, he answers. I tell him. He breaks. I won’t sleep until he boards his flight. Once he makes it on the flight hours later, I break. Not for Chloe, just for him.
We go to lunch at our taqueria, even though none of us feel like eating. I order a burrito. We sit quietly eating chips and salsa. Above us, spanish sportscasters yelling from the television. Grief is a strange thing. I feel guilty over my burrito. I feel guilty about being the one that told our best friend about Chloe.
Like I shouldn't have been the one to tell him. I shouldn't have placed that importance on me, should've let the internet take care of it. I know I'm wrong. I don't voice any of these thoughts because I know I'm wrong. I hold on to them anyway.
I’m ending my project today. It just doesn’t feel right to take a photo on today. Why would I do it? Not only why, but how?
We walk by this little guy and he is me. Fuck. I can't stop. I have to keep going. Because I'm still alive and this is for me and if I stop, then what's the point?
I take the most honest self-portrait I’ll ever take.
We’re waiting for our best friend to land from Belfast. I make a bad joke. We laugh. It almost feels like we mean it. But we don’t. We stand close together and bump into each other while we wait. The physical reminder that we’re here is comforting.