At the very last moment, we canceled. Everyone else will still go, nothing will fall apart, they can catch up and talk and maybe our ears will burn but maybe it will be more of a wishful thought that we could join them all but just for tonight we looked at each other and couldn't. Couldn't put on a coat and walk outside again, couldn't find the energy to put forth a social face and couldn't bear to let go of each other long enough to sit in a truck or in a restaurant and instead we're going to get the kids settled and then curl up early together and fall asleep and not talk or dream or move or be anyone other than ourselves.
I can count on one little hand the number of times I have ever not made good on plans made and it kind of feels alien at first, and then it feels forbidden and finally it feels liberating. That I could run upstairs before cooking dinner here and change into plaid flannel pajama bottoms and a long-sleeved t-shirt and make a huge platter of fruit and vegetables and toasted ham and cheese sandwiches and we took them to the TV to eat while we watched an old movie and didn't talk so much at all, numb and mindless and comforted.
Ben's eyes are closing. The flash of brown where he rests, alert but sacrificed to fatigue is beginning to catch up with him, overtaking him at this point. He's on the verge of getting sick. He always gets sick at the end and earlier he laughed so incredulously and came to point out to me how, less than a year ago we had called it quits and he tried so valiantly to move on and failed and how dumb we were but how damned sure. And look where we are now.
And if I wanted to know something he has never told anyone before, then would I find it interesting to know that never once has he ever said I love You to anyone out loud in his entire life before saying it to me? He said it to me from the get-go as friends because it was true, only I used it as a greeting and as a goodbye and as a reminder and love for Bridget is sometimes everything and the kitchen sink but for Ben it is a sacred, beautiful declaration that is reserved only for the one you really do love that deeply and I had to think really hard because Christ, he's had a ton of girlfriends and some of them have been around in the past and I was convinced he had said it in front of us but he knew he hadn't and I couldn't come up with any examples at all.
I asked him if they had ever noticed or been bothered by that and he said all of them were, they had all noticed, and he didn't really care because he didn't love them so why would he say he did and now I knew why there were so many of them. No one would stay.
It was supposed to be a quiet night of going to bed early and doing little but it's hard to relax when you're covered in goosebumps. For a decidedly unromantic guy, he's really good at this stuff.