The past two nights, however, have demonstrated a significant kink in my “spiritual and emotional armor”. I am unable to fight off the negative thoughts, a habit that had served me well. There can be no doubt that the best habit one can develop is the habit of” looking on the better side of things”. Tonight I don’t have it, and it is at this time when I need a friend, and a God. That, I believe is why so many in here turn so “viciously” to religion.
I require approximately five hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. The past two days my sleep has been interrupted at one or two hour intervals: the first, I suspect was purely insomnia and just not being able to shut down my mind. Late at night when the background noises settle down, a six by ten foot room can get awfully small. There is no trip to the kitchen for a snack, there is no turning on the TV to watch a late movie, and there certainly is not stepping outside for a breath of fresh air. Often times it is just the clinking of the guard’s keys as he makes his rounds.
God is with me and that is all the fanfare I give it, faith. As for a friend, I think of Nazz. Don Nazzereno Emili, simply put, is my best friend. Nazz and I met in New York City twenty-five years ago when I was just an intern, and he was an eager-beaver Wall Street type. There really are no words to express just how close Nazz and I are now, or became during our heydays in the Apple, except to say “brothers”.
To put it in perspective, I was dating a very pretty and proper girl from Conneticut. I even loved her family, her mother and father. Her father was especially warm and I really appreciated his input. I liked her a lot, though just like Jane Austen’s Emma: “I could never attach myself to anyone so completely reserved. It is a most repulsive quality, indeed. There is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a reserved person”.
One night, as we were preparing for dinner out, which on an intern’s salary is something you don’t take lightly, this woman suggested that we not take Nazz with us because he was “too crazy.” I excused myself to return to my apartment to change clothes, and never went back. That’s how close Nazz and I were, and are. I guess I should have at least stuck around to find out what she meant, but frankly for me, it didn’t really matter. Nazz is my best friend. He is everything you needed in a brother: first and foremost, he was loyal; he is also over-educated and speaks about ten different languages. He is the consummate problem solver (and I marvel at how his brain works); is incredibly fun, and will try anything. He laughs constantly (perhaps mostly because he recognizes the ridiculousness in our lives), is just down to earth, and – let me just say it again – loyal. If you needed help – any kind of help he would be there without a whole lot of dialogue.
If you called Nazz right now and said “I need your help. I got to go do something to someone, and I can’t tell you who; and worse yet I can’t tell you why; and after it is done we can never ever talk about it.
His only question would be, “Whose car are we taking?”
To this day when I hear his voice on the phone, I laugh. All our conversations begin with laughter. I never even know what I’m supposed to be laughing about; I just know it’s funny. He is the friend I summoned this sleepless evening.
Nazz is now married with a lovely daughter, Giovanna, and his wonderful wife Anna, who is Brazilian. Anna is just a great person. I am happy for my friend.
Because I cannot talk with him I have taken to remembering some of our previous conversations. I think we both loved the time we spent in New York, and we love rehashing (and laughing) about the stories. He is always asking me off the top of his head if I talked with “so and so”, who I used to date 20 or 30 years ago. Of course I haven’t, but in here there’s lots of time and I did something that kind of made me uneasy – but I did it anyway: I listed the women who I considered myself to have dated – and been in a relationship with – since college. The task I gave myself was to examine exactly why we weren’t together, but the catch was, these had to be people that I would have considered marrying.
That was crazy. I discarded that notion. That was this place working on my head. There was nothing to be gained from that except torture. I cleared my mind and decided it was best to let those things go.