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There’s a street in town that smells of New Orleans.

I go out of my way to walk it. It reminds me of the night I stood naked in the window of the Loews Hotel overlooking the mighty Mississippi.

Kate is clothed, sitting on the bed. I should be. The conversation we have distracts me. We discuss a friend who unexpectedly died several months back. If someone wanted, they could look up into the lit hotel room window and see the blur of my body. No one is looking. It’s just us. There’s an odd comfort that comes with being naked while another is clothed and yet neither bat an eye.

We start the night at the bar downstairs then move into the city. In truth, all I want is to go back up to the room. I fear the distractions of the night will lead me astray from the time alone we need. The relationship is fading. She knows it better than I. We enjoy each other’s company for the remainder of the week. Another trip away occurs and we continue through the motions. Experiencing certain moments in the other’s life justifies us holding on. The highlights are meaningful, temporarily outweighing the impending truth that we will not end up together.

She does her best to reverse the transition we made from friends to lovers. I do my best to deny it needs to happen until I can’t kid either of us anymore.

A woman’s love is nothing you can own. Rejection fades and common sense kicks in over time. Without context, relationships are harsh. Perspective changes that. It reestablished my friendship with Kate. Friendship is often more beautiful than love. It’s knowing when to trust someone with a piece of you that no one else can see. Shedding tears without fear of embarrassment, confessing the unspeakable happenings of an old life, sharing a moment of joy that only two individuals can understand; these are the behaviors that make lovers friends.

Lovers don’t last.

Kate is a friend.