LOST ANOTHER FRIEND in recent weeks, not to death, but to marriage. When we are young and idealistic, we take on the costumes and pageantry of relationships without even knowing them, as if engaged in some profound dress-up party, but when you get older, when you observe the mind states of your friends as they evolve or rather transform during the course of their relationships, these occurrences leave room for worry. The woman outside the relationship is open, flowing, free, friendly, supportive, human. The man outside the relationship is bold, rough, adventurous, come-what-may, locked into achieving the whims of his own ego or life force. Yet put them together, and you get a sort of lethargic, post-coital slop bucket of guarded or changed personalities and shared dreams that are all too easily crushed or disjointed. Which is to say, congratulations on your great achievements, friends — and this happens with great frequency in life — but also, so sad to lose you. Up long lanes, they disappear, up long, guarded roads where men stand in trench coats with guns. The militarized estate of the relationship. It’s, as I said, a cosmic depression to watch, especially if your friend has undergone a thorough brainwashing in the wee hours and now can only revert to quoting his/her partner, “Ingrid thinks this,” or, well, “Thomas thinks that.” It’s like the shining of flashlights in bleak vacant windows of a once grand and busy hotel that has now been closed up for the winter season. Come back, friend, come back to me from the brink! One of these days the amnesia will wear off. One of these days you will shine free. One of these days the hotel will reopen.