Friday, 21 December 2007

The expected reception.

(This is an entry about courage. And elephants.)

I knocked on the door of his apartment and it opened before my hand fell to my side.

He was so happy to see me. He put his arms out and made a noise like a sob and then took me into a tight hold against him and rocked and rocked in the conclusion of some sort of chronic agony. He took my face in his hands, burning my hair with his cigarette and I asked him to put it down. He laughed and his eyes were glassy but the smile didn't leave his face even once.

It didn't leave his face as he offered me his last cigarette. I said no and reminded him he quit and he swore softly. He kissed me. Seventeen times. He couldn't sit still, he wouldn't shut up, he wouldn't listen to me when I told him why I was there.

He knew why I was there.

He had been wearing the same jeans for four days now. His boots were scuffed, his hair messed up, and he hadn't shaved at all recently. His eyes darted all over me and back again as he rubbed his face and then stood back up. He hadn't slept.

The kids.

They're with Chris.

You're really here. Jesus, Bridge. What have we been through?

Hell disguised as heaven, Benjamin.

Are you okay?

I will be.

I am learning that I can exist in a place where I can be with someone and feel nothing except companionship and safety and a very gentle sort of love and sometimes it's enough for me. For him it's enough too, it's enough that he has a place in my life neither of us thought he would ever fit into and I'm grateful that he is here for me. I'm grateful that he doesn't ask for more. I may never have more to give him but he'll still be here with me. Like he always is, no matter how hard I've tried to get rid of him and how much I always wanted him back.

Jacob asked me to do this in his letter and I fought so hard against it. I didn't understand it for a very long time, but I think I do now.

There are a lot of people out there who won't agree with this. Maybe the ones who have never met Bridget or Ben or even Jacob who will pass judgement without fully understanding this. I'm not looking for a replacement father for the kids. I'm not looking for a rebound guy to fill the giant hole left by Jacob. Ben is well aware that I don't love him like that, that my heart no longer exists and my every thought is consumed with memories and jabs of pain. He is well-aware that he is following in the footsteps of the greatest love ever and we're both aware that we could end our friendship if things don't go well. It's a risk we're both willing to take. A slow-moving risk, kind of like skiing away from a creeping avalanche.

An adventure embarked on by two grownups who are alone and don't want to be. It's a let's see how it goes, let's see if there's something there after all plan that doesn't include us going away for Christmas, I have decided to stay here. It doesn't involve us jumping into bed either. Because we don't need to. My ridiculous need for affection is well-supplied and frankly I'm not ready to be touched by someone else so overall very little will change for now.

For now.

Don't make me wait ten years for your heart, little bee.