When my family moved to Hallsville the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I started introducing myself as Kyle, because I’d spent my entire childhood hearing my name mispronounced more times than I cared to count. Kyle was one syllable, and a “normal” name, and despite my Dad’s objection to its masculinity, I preferred going by a nickname to hearing my own name butchered. So I became Kyle, forever immortalized on the back of my letter jacket. My senior year, several freshmen boys joined our drumline, including two named Kyle. The following joke ensued:

“Hey, do you know Kyle?”
“Which one?”
“The one in band.”
“Which one?”
“The drummer.”
“Which one?”
“The girl.”
“Which one?”

And the other guys on the drumline would laugh, and the two Kyles would roll their eyes. They had a name and drumsticks in common, but aside from that, they were pretty different guys. To avoid confusion, most people called the one with curly hair and glasses by his last name. When I knew him, he was kinda quiet, short, really nice, and sometimes surprisingly good at flinging a well-crafted insult.

I was in New York for the remainder of his high school career, and we didn’t do a very good job of keeping in touch. Then one day, while home on a holiday, I was shopping at Old Navy, and as I made my way through the cash register line, this tall, thin, really cute cashier with curly hair and striking blue-green eyes looked at me and in a low resonant voice said, “Hi, Kyle.”

Reconnecting with Kyle was cool; he came to my house to catch up and ended up watching me pack, and then we became facebook friends and xanga subscribers. Then last year, he came to New York on a mission trip, and though I’m not proud of it and I didn’t do it intentionally, I completely ignored him. I didn’t call him back, and though he spent a week here, I didn’t see him once. Of course, I was disappointed (both in the situation and in myself), and I called and told him that any time he wanted to come back to New York he was welcome to crash with me.

Last week, he took me up on my offer, and we had a blast. Kyle is probably one of the most laid-back individuals I know (unless you go the extra mile to piss him off — then watch out!) and his approach to New York was low-key, which seems contrary to the nature of this hustle-and-bustle city. I didn’t stress out about his vacation at all, really. He came to church with me and loved it (as all my visitors seem to do, natch); he endured hot weather (despite our lack of A/C) and torrential downpours; and he didn’t even get frustrated when, not once, but twice, I ended up stuck on the wrong side of the subway turnstiles with a card that said “just used”. The second Philharmonic concert in the Park (unlike the first) actually happened, and they played Beethoven’s Fifth as part of the program. Kyle found us a nice shady spot under a tree, and I (after a huge delay and much frustration with the MTA involving having to take a cab from one subway station to another) brought us Subway sandwiches and cheap sangria, and we sat and listened to Asian girls chatter loudly over the fantastic music. On the walk home from the bus we got caught in the rain, which he lists on his blog as a highlight of his trip (you can find the other highlights here: http://www.xanga.com/elyk703). We also ate at Silk Road, a chinese food restaurant on the Upper West Side that gives free wine with the meal; and we spent a bit of time with his friend Charles who’s here on internship. I also got to see Avenue Q with the boys when Charles’ mother’s flight was delayed and they ended up with an extra ticket (thanks again, Kyle!). We had some great sushi and interesting conversations, and I miss having him around already. Lucky for me, Kyle wants to move up here after college.

Come on, 2008.

I think I need another Starburst.

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