Years Gone By
If Roger gets drunk, he's more honest. It isn't hard to do, pretty much anyone in the loft is willing to get drunk when it's cheap or paid for. Roger happens to get honest when he's drunk, so if someone asked him then, he'd say that, yeah, he knows Mark the best. Since he moved to New York and Collins took him in, practically since that day (Roger has a selective memory) Mark has been his best friend, so it stands that Roger is the one who understands him. He gets why Mark's parents annoy him so much, and knows why sometimes Mark has to film something so that he can hide from it and deal with it at the same time.
Years ago, Roger had been the first band that Mark had seen in the city, and when he got off stage Mark looked more alive than Roger had ever seen this goofy kid from Scarsdale. He had been smiling and shaking and said, loud enough for the whole bar to hear, "That is what I mean." Mark was glowing over his camera at Roger that night, and sure people were staring but Mark didn't mind at all. "That is what I need on film, you know," he explained to Roger, and Roger got it even if Mark didn't make sense.
Roger's the filmmaker's best friend, so he knows him best.
If you asked Maureen, she'd tell you (very proudly) that of course the only one who really gets Mark is herself. He loved her, after all, and they still love each other in some ways, maybe Mark more than she loves him anymore but it is still there, so Maureen is more privy to those inner feelings of the rather closed-off cameraman than anyone else. She knows what he saw in her and why they fit together so well, and she can still bring those feelings back if she wants, whenever she wants. She knows things about him that others don't, like why he likes to fuck with the lights off and how he can't sleep without curling up against something. It's just things that only she knows.
Years ago, she was the first girl that he said, "I love you," to, not counting his mom, of course. She'd been dancing, not to any particular song or with any particular person. Just dancing in that way that use to draw all eyes to her, but that was back in Hicksville and not in New York, where Maureen wasn't anything special and just seemed to blend in with everyone else. Mark still thought she was amazing and wonderful and special, though, even in the city. She never seemed to blend into everything, at least not to him, and he never did to her, so they kept each other from disappearing.
Clearly, he loves her, so she must know him best.
Collins has never been able to spend that much time with the others, always having been a little outside their group like a teacher to his students, but he is sure that in some ways, because there are so many ways to know a person, he knows Mark the best. Maybe just because that is his job; to notice things. Marx noticed how people were alienated and self repressed, Lacan noticed how language seemed to shape a person in the same way Freud claimed birth did, and Althusser noticed how we're all caught in an inescapable ideology. It all comes down to noticing things, and Collins has taken some notice of Mark.
Years ago, he was the first teacher Mark really trusted or liked. At least, that is what he told him after his seminar. "You just seem to actually get it," Mark told him that first time they meant, and Collins was more than happy to listen to a student who wasn't bitching about their grade. "You do this for more than academia, but because..." And Mark could have gone on for days, but Collins gave him his phone number and said to call him if he wanted to talk. He's the reason that Mark came to New York, the reason he finally pushed himself over and gave up trying to be someone he wasn't.
Yes, Collins would like to think he has some idea of Mark.
It may sound silly, and she would never say it out loud, but sometimes Joanne is pretty sure that she is the one who knows Mark the best. Okay, they're not the best of friends or really much of friends at all, but they get each other. At least Joanne is sure that they do. They understand each other, because they have both been through Maureen, and once you've been through that you pretty much need a support group of others who get why exactly you're in love with this girl to the point of being a masochist. There is something that pushes them towards her, something that draws them in and only Joanne and Mark can really understand that about each other.
It's like the first time they met it's at the actors workshop Maureen had gone to, and Joanne just planned on stopping by right after to take her out for lunch. She doesn't mean to run into Mark, standing at the door waiting on his girlfriend. This was before Maureen gets the courage to come out, to leave him. Mark didn't know her, and Joanne only knew about him from what Maureen told her. She recognizes him, though, because God he really sort of does look like a very fucked up teddy bear. "Hey," she says, looking past him and into the door he's standing by. "Have you seen Maureen?" She just said that, and Mark got this look. That look that Joanne understood perfectly well, and she could never explain to anyone else.
It's just something they share, and it's something that only Joanne gets about Mark.
If you asked Benny, he'd probably think this is some sort of joke, but if pushed than, yeah, he'll admit that no matter what everyone else thinks he has always been the one who knows Mark the best. Sure, the others may have the advantage of living with him, but Benny knew him first and he knew him before he put up that wall that he started to build up when he came to the city and found out that living on film isn't so easy.
Years ago, when they first came to New York Mark's mom decided she had to come by and see. Benny had been there, had been the one to save Mark when his mom had a near panic attack at seeing where he little baby lived. "It could be a lot worse," he told Mark when he finally managed to get his mom to go back to her hotel. Mark still didn't calm back down, even with her gone, and Benny could see him annoyed and scared, pacing the loft for the next few days. Not because of his mom but because he still felt like he's a part of that life, just a kid playing like a bohemian in the city and Mark is terrified off that.
That is something only Benny saw. Only he really gets Mark.
There are moments when Mimi thinks that maybe she is the one who knows Mark best, but that is because these are the moments when it seems like Mark just knows her the best. Even better than Angel had, and more than Roger ever seemed to try. Mark just seems to get her so easily that Mimi feels they must have some sort of understanding of one another, some kind of connection. What Mimi and Roger have with their disease and drugs, Mark and her have with Roger and being left behind, so sometimes Mimi can just look at Mark and she feels like she knows him so perfectly.
Two years, what feels like forever, Mimi remembers the first time she ran to him after one of her and Roger's big fights. Who knows what fight it was, or what it was about since, back then, back when Roger was still secretly terrified and looking for any reason out, almost anything she did seem to lead to a fight. One of those times though, she decided to go up to the loft as Roger storms down to the street and who knows where. She went up this time and finds Mark, and she cried to him and he didn't make her leave, even when she knew she was being annoying. He just let her talk, and he listened without ever judging. And then when she was to exhausted to keep crying, he told her about Roger and April and the shows and the drugs and the first time they met and some day they went to the Cat Scratch Club together and the first time Roger must have seen Mimi, as far as he knew. He seemed to know exactly what to say to make Mimi feel better, and so while she's falling asleep on the couch and Mark was tucking her in, she found herself feeling like he'd known her forever, and everything just fit with them.
They just understand each other, and there really isn't any reason behind that. Mimi just knows Mark.
Just because she didn't get to know him very long, doesn't mean she didn't know him at all. In fact, Angel might know Mark better than anyone else. Not because of any real reason, but she feels like he opened up to her, poured everything into her without ever meaning to, things he probably didn't want her to know at all. But then she did, so maybe it's Angel who knows him the best after that.
Mark could still remember last year, and the last year they had with Angel. There are these nights, when she is trapped in the hospital bed (or at least she feels trapped, since she can't seem to even get herself up without her whole body collapsing back down), and Collins actually leaves her side because someone forced him to go eat or sleep. Those are nights when Mark would sit with her sometimes, and Angel would ask about him. Not anything too private, just ask for some stories, trying to cling to all those moments she wouldn't have with him. And Mark would tell her these little anecdotes, one that he might not have even thought about, but Angel would get more from what he told her, who he talked about. Angel would know more about him after those nights than he even meant to tell her.
Mark would say, maybe, that Angel listen to his stories. So Angel knows him best.
Mark watches his film flicker over the wall of his room. Trying to figure out what else to cut and edit and move around. He knows these scenes without looking up anymore, the flicker of the projector all he needs to figure out where in the movie they are. A movie, that is what his life seems to be for the last few years, and this is what it comes down to. Figuring out which parts of the last few years are worth keeping.
Flicking over the gray wall, Mark just sits and stares without watching at all. This is starting to feel useless. Like a cry for help when you're asleep, and no one can really hear. It's just lost in your nightmare, like years of his life are lost in this film that no one will understand.
You can't make people feel the energy that Roger had when he sings, the way he is so in love with his art that it doesn't matter how bad the lyrics are or how the audience is almost nonexistence because all that matters is the music. He could show Maureen dancing, but could anyone really get how it feels, going from being the most amazing one at your school to being swallowed whole in New York, with no one who seems to care or even want to try and pick you up again? God, Maureen. She is on his wall now, laughing as she takes a bow. Can a movie make everyone understand what it feels like only him and Joanne could ever get about Maureen?
Mark looks up at the film, and there is Collins' bright smile, smoke flowing out from his lips as he talks to the cameras like he'd talk to Mark before. Inspirational truths that Mark had cling to in college, and the final kick that had him giving up being his parent's perfect son and instead just being himself. Can his film do that for someone else?
Maybe it's too personal. Mark frowns, hand lying on the projector to turn it off, but never reaching the switch. Maybe these are stories you can only tell your friends, things that no one else can understand. And that is terrifying to him, that all this work might be nothing more than a journal if no one else can get anything from it. That his friend's lives are nothing, not worth other people's time or love, when they're all that Mark has anymore.
The film flickers over the wall with everything they are, and Mark is starting to realize that no one will really understand just how important this is to him.