March 2, 2007
today i talked to steve on a whim. the guy lives right next door to me, and is always nice as can be, but i hardly ever talk to him.

so today i see him scratching my dog, benny, in the parking lot and i call out from the balcony, "benny, are you being an attention hound again?"
steve looks up from the parking lot below and says, "what?"
i repeat myself, prefacing it with a "oh i just was asking benny if..." and the conversation continues.

soon we are talking about his father's near-death experience, then his own. it turns out steve has been dead for eighteen minutes. he checked into the hospital from a friend's passenger seat, with a stopped heart. twenty minutes later, after scarring his chest with the defibrilators, the doctors found his pulse. by all accounts he should have been dead, or brain dead at least. but here he is now: giving me dishes and furniture, sponsoring recovering alcoholics, wearing cowboy boots, and telling me his story.

it makes my eyes water again and again. especially the part when he tells me how stubborn he had been not to go to the hospital when the chest pains and general weirdness had begun. or when he says, "but i had to be here. i still had important work to do. and here i am: doing it." he's serious. he really believes, knows even, that he is doing the right thing for his life.

"i died too," i say, "this summer."
"what?" he says, now coming up the stairs to get closer, "you died too?"
"yes," i say, smiling, glad that he believes me, "i drowned in nicaragua."