How to say? How to acknowledge? Privacy means privacy, and thankfully I’m notable for being able to state the obvious in words that make things not so, so perhaps this is the best way to break through a multiple-month logjam of silence and say what needs saying.(Inscrutable? Sorry; this is a private message posted semi-publicly.)
There is no ‘me and you,’ and never has been; this funny friendship has meant many things over the years, most unspoken and unacknowledged, but there for both of us. Easter brought you back to me, reminded me of why I have Life A here in Huntsville and Life B in Atlanta, reminded me of why I think the drive is worth it and why I’m unlikely ever to have a life, singular, in one place or the other.
He came back toward me, with an intentness of purpose that told me what I needed to know, even before he said it:”It’s just after midnight. Happy birthday.”
At the end of the night, past the music and the conversation, Chris and I pulled out the sofa bed for him. As we did, the random shuffle served up Diana Krall’s take on Joni Mitchell and I realized with a sudden hitch of breath that this little throwaway moment would be one that I remembered. She whispered her way through ‘A Case Of You’ while we untangled a purring, bright-eyed Tenzing from the sheets we wanted to place on the sofa bed.
I’ve known what the title of this entry would be for two months; even though I never could quite get around to putting fingers to keyboard to bring it into being. The word “laden” whispered itself to me as fingers touched blossom, whispered to me in that insistent voice that said, no matter how long it took, the chronicle of this moment was one that would not stay wholly in my mind.
It was my seventh wedding anniversary, but the story starts several days earlier, in an airport standing next to a man who, unbeknownst to me, had a plan.
* * * * *
I hugged Jake at the airport, marveling at his ability to take a cross-country flight and come out looking just as neat and calm as he must’ve looked upon boarding the plane. Through a screwup, I hadn’t met him on his way to baggage claim as I’d originally intended; he was already at baggage claim by the time I found him.
Is it confetti in the air, a word thrown amidst showers of sparkles, ephemeral and trifling but no less beautiful for its fleeting nature? Or is it the secret word of last resort, pried out with crowbars and truth serum, held back until end-stage relationship warfare for fear of its misuse? Does it fall from your lips the moment it is thought, or is it the unsaid knowledge that burns behind your eyelids, shimmering into your vision every time its object is seen?
What does it take to trigger the word ‘love’ from your lips? Is it an easy breath shared with friends; a sweaty, sexual gasp; a solid familial or marital reassurance? There is no unsaying, no retraction; does that knowledge of permanence make the words easier to scatter to the wind or infinitely more dear?
We tiptoed out, the three of us, on the wrong side of midnight, between the last of the party conversations and the beginning of the out-of-town guests settling in for an abbreviated night’s sleep.
Ever tried to climb naked into an unfamiliar hot tub in the dark while mistakenly attempting to preserve some semblance of modesty? Let me reassure you: it’s just as difficult as you might think. Still, darkness sometimes breeds bravery, and I tumbled in with the words, “Well, I have two of everything I’m supposed to have two of, and one of everything else, so … screw it.”
* * * * *
Every house should have a set of stairs, even if they’re decorative, just so that the quiet folk have a secluded spot to retreat to during even the loudest of parties.
I know this body like I know my own. Boastful girl, you know better; bodies change as lives change. The man of six years ago is not the man of now, no more than you are the sum total of six years’ worth of change on the body that married him on that July day.
We sat across from each other in the restaurant, sharing guilty giggles over queso on conversations that cannot be breathed into other ears.
“You know me well,” he said, swiping extraneous sauce from his lips with the nearest napkin.