Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The only one that made it.

gone under two times.
I've been struck dumb by a voice that
speaks from deep
beneath the cold black water.
It's twice as clear as heaven,
and twice as loud as reason.
It's deep and rich like silt on a riverbed
and just as undisturbing.

the currents mouth below me opens up around me.
suggests and beckons all while swallowing.
It surrounds and drowns and sweeps me away.

But I'm so comfortable...too comfortable.

shut up shut up shut up shut up
shut up shut up shut up shut up
Mark another X on the calendar with a red pencil, dip my finger in the sugar bowl and then put it in my mouth and smile just a little bit. Reach down to pull up my striped socks that come way up over my knees for warmth. Tuck my keys back into the inside pocket of my corduroy bag and move my coffee cup away from the edge of the table because I can envision it falling even though I'm sure it won't.

I have coffee hiccups and sweet dreams in my head today. Yesterday was fun. It was a spoil-day for Ben in honor of his birthday. He didn't have to do anything he didn't want to do, and we did everything he wanted to do, with great enthusiasm.

Early on, with Daniel up and around and capable enough to be left with uncle duties for the morning, Ben and I dressed warmly and went for a short run. Very short, as in mere blocks, just to top up my state of mind, and warm him up for what was next. A little hockey time in which he skates all over the place really fast and takes shots at an empty goal while I cheer him on and he feels as light as a feather without his usual extra goalie gear. I sat in the penalty box with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate from the vending machine because he nagged me about the amount of coffee I have been drinking lately and I agreed with his observations.

Besides, better coffee awaited at the diner, where we once again found ourselves, just like on Sunday after the service in which I was reminded once again to find a balance between cursing and deifying people who no longer breathe. This after Ben locked us in the empty dressing room in the virtually empty skating rink, him with half his gear still on and me wondering if normal people ever live the kind of life we do and not willing to find out in case I lose my way back to this. To him.

Breakfast was delicious, and then we went to take pictures in the conservatory because they have strung it with lights again and I missed out last year. I won't share the pictures because one or the other or both of us are in all of them and we're smiling easily and the black circles don't make their presence known, or maybe it's just that the light is so bright and natural in there.

Then we headed for record store row, which is a string of tiny hole-in-the-wall places without signs out front, but inside are milk crates stacked all over the place and the light is so bad inside it's a wonder he ever finds anything, but Ben came out with a Zeppelin bootleg and some other assorted vinyl that made him uncharacteristically excited. Afterward we poked around in a used bookstore (with better light) and he would read the backs of romance novels to me in funny voices so that I would laugh. That's when I noticed he wasn't looking fierce and scary and angry today, not even once, the smile drove it all away for me, and it isn't right that it's Ben's birthday but I'm the one having all the fun. He argues this point endlessly as we poke around the stacks.

He bought me the cheesiest book he could find, the cover featuring a black-haired half-vampire, half-pirate, wearing a shirt that is almost ripped off and sporting sinewy pirate-muscles, cradling a helpless blonde woman (in a nightgown!) in his arms and looking as if he will destroy anything that comes within a hundred yards. I can't wait to read it. Ben points out he has had that look before and I said we needed a wind machine so our hair can do that too. He rolled his eyes and said it was a whirlwind romance, that's why they seemed so poofy, and we were definitely not poofy people.

We took an early lunch to stock up on energy before spending the rest of the afternoon with Mark at the tattoo shop. Ben is finishing work on his calves and I had ivy added to the ivy already on me only this time some of it is black, fading to green in the imaginary light that hits my skin and it now wraps from my neck down my shoulder and around my arm and gives the orphan butterfly a place to rest. I'm thrilled with it, all done in Mark's steady free hand. I sat and listened as the boys talked about being sober and being in charge of their lives and their futures and it was the easy, clear talk of men who aren't wrapped around spiritual riddles or caught up in the race of rats. Talk that makes sense without having to think it over even once.

After that we headed home, and sacked out on the couch to play some snowboarding games and give Daniel a reprieve. I walked over alone to get the kids from school and Ben headed out for a meeting. Daniel, bless his heart, went back to bed.

Dinner was mayhem in our house. As per tradition, birthday dinners are long affairs with extra candles and impromptu speeches and gifts passed across dishes full of good foods and there's always extra laughs and thoughtful smiles and it's a chance for the birthday boy to have his worth to all of us soak in for a long while. And I avoid the big birthday dinner like the plague because I'm never sure that I like birthdays when they are mine and much prefer to spoil everyone else instead.

Especially with cake.

Ben loved all of his presents, and all of the words about him and most especially the food. He showed off his new ink, some of the guys played a little guitar and then before we knew it the night was over again and I was washing dishes and not humming in the kitchen while he and Daniel sacked out in front of the fire, each one with a sleeping child, and talked a bit until I was finished because I refused to let either one of them help and then one at a time, Ben carried each child to bed and then came back for me.

His fierce look came back right around the same time, because he gets quiet and serious and profound just as I'm turning flighty and fluttery and he held his arms out for me and showed me how much he loves me, only this time it was in the dark, in the warmth of our bed instead of up against the wall under the bright fluorescent lights of the dressing room at the hockey rink and afterward we compared those facts and laughed in whispers as we fell asleep, fingers laced together, lips on skin before Ben turns away to sleep his still-sleep that scares me, save only for the heat that radiates from his skin when he dreams.

This morning he drove me to work, for just a little more time before we leave the story we want to write in favor of the one that we're just now finishing up, and he kissed me hard in the truck before I got out and he told me to have a good day at work and I said you too, because I know at the end of this day we can leave this fake public existence and go back to the good story.

That one with the hot vampire pirate and the beautiful-but-helpless wench on the cover.

It's a pretty good read, you know.

Bridget can be poofy.