With Josh

October 11, 2007
By Soo Jung Lee, North Andover, MA

A few years ago, when I was starting to rebel against my parents and lock the door to my room more often, I became quite certain that there was no one else in this world that could possibly know all the pain I felt. I had an abstract image of the type of person who could, however; he or she would be short, pudgy, jovial yet reserved – so that I could always be the one talking.

I didn’t think anyone like that actually existed, however, so when I met Josh I wasn’t surprised; he didn’t look anything like the person I had envisioned. He was lanky and constantly tapped his bony legs. His face was creased by wrinkles that ran deep with anxiety. His disheveled hair curtained his bulging eyes, and while he made a peculiar first impression, it wasn’t a lasting one.

While passing the music room one day, I picked out the sound of panting and furious stomping. Fearing the worst but unable to suppress my curiosity, I opened the door – and found him, face as distorted as could be, sighing at an ocean of spilt facial cream. I then remembered that Melanie had told me he was gay. As he helplessly watched the cream flowing out of the container labeled ‘Monday night cream,’ there suddenly lay before my eyes, a replica of me. I could almost feel the cream oozing onto the floor as I remembered the countless times I spilt facial cream all over the bathroom floor. It was déjà vu, and by simple transposition I began to sustain the illusion that it was I, not he, that was standing there. I felt a spooky sensation of empathy.

We were soon on speaking terms, then chatting terms, then wildly gossiping terms. I had never before met another person whose life was so plagued by misfortune and bad karma as mine. It seemed as though he was a hidden twin, and I was fascinated by how our personalities were alike; we were both impulsive and romantic, easily stressed, and we both adored taking pictures that we would spend hours indulging in for all the memories they evoked. We both liked steak, and visited a seemingly classy steakhouse in Manhattan one weekend. When the waitress brought his rib-eye, however, he scolded her for the excessive oil that was dripping off his meat and told her to take it back. I felt slightly uncomfortable by this, but soon forgot the whole incident as we took pictures of ourselves in front of the steakhouse upon leaving, as eternal evidence of the two hours we spent there. We looked identical, and I had trouble discerning who was who at first glance.

Serenity and calmness and hammocks. It felt like lying in a hammock, to chat with Josh; it was so peaceful and he understood with all his heart my sorrows. I didn’t know how we could be so similar. We even liked pretty much the same writers, and in English class we always sat together. In one English class, however, Josh sat behind me, and not next to me. He said he wasn’t feeling well. All I could do was pray that my spiritual clone would get well soon.

Then the insensitive Ms. Henry started to scold our class for the poor job we had all done on our last assignment. She picked out Josh’s paper as the witch to burn and started calling out the excess of insignificant words that ultimately expanded the paper over the limit. I heard Josh wince in his chair and tap his feet. As Ms. Henry got out a red pen and started marking off words, I heard a grating noise from behind. Josh stormed out of the classroom with a thunderous slam, and as Ms. Henry looked at us with a look of bewilderment I sensed a frightfully distant gap between he and I.

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