The Other Side of the World

The Other Side of the World by Jay Neugeboren Page B

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Authors: Jay Neugeboren
family.”
    â€œLucky guy,” Seana said. “In my book, the idealization of family does as much harm as believing that falling-in-love with a one-and-only being the be-all and end-all of life. Friendship—having good friends you can count on, like you two—like Max—always trumps family.”
    â€œCan we drink to that—and to Max?” Trish asked.
    â€œA splendid idea,” Seana said, and then: “Okay by you, Charlie?”
    â€œYes,” I said, and would have said more, but was afraid that if I did, I would break down completely.
    Trish poured three glasses of Jamison’s for us, and, silently, we raised our glasses, clinked them, drank.
    Seana spoke, with a brogue: “‘For what could be worse than drink?’ the young Irishman asked, and his father answered, ‘Thirst.’”
    â€œSo after Nick left us,” Trish said, “I made Lorenzo and Eugenia legal guardians for Gabe, and later on I added that they be guardians for Anna too, because at least if something happened to me, Lorenzo and Eugenia would have the wherewithal to raise them, or to see that they were taken care of, which I knew I couldn’t count on Nick for. But now that Nick’s gone, I’ve changed my mind, and I’ve decided to call my lawyer and ask him to draw up new papers making you two the guardians.”
    â€œBut you haven’t asked us if we agree to be guardians,” Seana said.
    â€œ Do you?”
    â€œMaybe yes, maybe no,” Seana said. “But a question first: Your departure from this world isn’t in the works, is it?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œPromise?”
    â€œYes.”
    â€œCross your heart?”

    â€œYes.”
    â€œThen, as judges are wont to say, we’ll take it under advisement, okay?” Seana said.
    â€œAnd you, Charlie?” Trish asked.
    â€œI agree with Seana,” I said. “I’m flattered, Trish—honored, really—but I think we should give it some time. I know what you’re like when you get high, and I’m not sure, with the news about my dad, that I’m capable of thinking clearly right now, even if I seem to be rational…”
    â€œAnd you’ve been off your meds,” Seana said.
    â€œOkay, okay,” Trish said. “Sure. And thank you both very much. Thank you. I feel better now—a lot better. I mean, not better that your father’s gone, Charlie, but…”
    â€œIt’s okay,” I said.
    â€œâ€¦but even when I go back on my meds—lower dose, right?—and you’re gone and I try to get back to what passes for normal life, I know I’m going to stay firm about my decision. I just know it because it feels so right —it just does,” she said, and then to me: “Do you still want to have your own kids some day?”
    â€œYes,” I said.
    â€œIf you didn’t have any, would that be a loss—something that would diminish your life?”
    â€œYes,” I said.
    â€œI remember how enthusiastic you were when we talked about maybe having kids together, you and me—but you were calm too—like it was something you’d always known about yourself. It made me care for you a lot.”
    â€œWhen you and Nick had Gabe,” I said, “I was happy for you and sad for me—that I wasn’t the father.”
    Trish put her hand on mine. “You weren’t, Charlie. I know you worried about that, but you can trust me on this. You’re not Gabe’s father, okay?”
    â€œMax was just like a mother to me,” Seana said.

    â€œ What? ” Trish said.
    â€œMax was just like a mother to me,” Seana said again.
    â€œOh,” Trish said, and nodded several times. “Sure. I think I understand.”
    â€œDo you really ?” Seana said.
    â€œAs I was saying,” I said, “my father and Freeman were on their way to a convention somewhere—Baltimore, I

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