This is how it happens: with ďhelloĒ and ďnice to see you againĒ and a manly, backslapping, distant hug. You look at him and see yourself if you had gone another path, and you think, Thank God. Not me.

 

And then you think of yourself with your blonde hair and white-white smile on TV, and think, Okay, maybe me.

 

And then you start listening to him. Before he spoke, you had only seen yourself, yourself as you are now. Buzzed hair and critical acclaim and saying the word fuck on film, just like a grown-up. You had seen yourself and disregarded him, with his buzzed hair and his disregard of critics and his refusal to say fuck in front of his mother. But then his mother leaves and he starts talking like a real person.

 

This is how it happens: you see each other after years and years and its still there, the connection you and he used to have. You remember when you were best best friends and JC and Tony were in the dressing room next to yours, playing guitar and singing, and Christina and Britney were always popping in to say hello to you and to ask you about boys and sex and life. Itís almost like that, but without Britney and Christina. Its just you and Justinís puppy gaze, halfway between intimidated and unimpressed.

 

He looks at the floor, and then at you, and then the floor, and he keeps talking. And you keep listening.

 

This is how it happens: with JC and Tony in the other room just like old times, and your eyes locked on Justinís just like old times, because Justin has always shone. Like gold, his mama used to say, like gold, and youíre not gold anymore, youíre stripped real and tarnished and youíre not the same person anymore. Youíre not Justin and Justinís not you but here you both are. Buzzed heads and sharp blue eyes and that smile.

 

You look at him and think of yourself at auditions, with that smile and that hair and that gold, and everyone refusing to give you a chance until you buzzed it all off, stripped yourself of your gold and your glimmer and your shine.

 

Justin still has it, no matter what he does to get rid of it. He plays his new song for you with a grin and a self-effacing roll of his eyes, and you canít help but grin back. Justin glitters, Justin shines. Justin isnít you and youíre not Justin, but fuck. You almost wish you could be.

 

This is how it happens: neither of you have to say anything, but you do anyway. you talk and talk until he goes onstage, and you go out into the audience, to watch him shine. You look at him glittering in the stage lights and think, golden.

 

And then its all over and you feel the way you do when the camera starts rolling, when the director hasnít given you any cues and tells you to just follow your instincts.

 

This is how it happens: you get on the bus with him and the night goes on and you look. And you listen. And youíre not Justin and Justinís not you so when you run your fingers over his buzzed head, he leans forward and does the same to you. And then he kisses you, and its golden.

 

This is how it happens.

 

END