Thursday, 6 September 2012

Neat bows on messy gifts.

If I make a sound
Will you stop everything, I'm innocent
When I'm not around
Would you cover your eyes and imagine?

Can you hear it
Can you see it
Falling, falling to the ground
He wants me to tell you that was a fluke.

He's right, sort of and this is not to say that I'm now going to travel down a road that sees the fairest one of all tarnished by the darkness of my memories. No, this is just to illustrate how Perfect is relative, and how those who seem the most together are sometimes the most apart.

That was the only time and place in which I saw that darkness from Lochlan. Whatever it was, it vanished from him once we took up speaking to each other again. He wants me to point out that his engagement happened in 2006, which was almost a full DECADE after I left him sleeping in the fleabag room we rented and came home early.

The years in between saw me boomeranging back to Cole long after Lochlan's birthday, thrilled with the summer away, the better shows we found abroad, the indelible memories we made swirling my thoughts like the wind in my hair at the top of the largest Ferris wheels on earth.

We slept beside our bicycles in the grass. We ate goat cheese and bread in the sun. We busked illegally and skirted fines with charm and we made pennies on the foreign dollar, coming home with little to show for it. So much so that upon our (final) return, Lochlan went back to school at the urging of the others and now makes predictable money, something that's especially important when you're forty-seven years old (FUCK. REALLY?) and can't spend the same amount of time in the sun that you used to in a culture where people want to be entertained only up until the moment where they are supposed to pay for it and then they drift away as if they were never really there.

(I can confirm this first-hand, after putting a twenty dollar bill in the hat of another fire-thrower two summers ago because he was totally fucking entertaining and the look on his face told me everything I've ever needed to know about how much the world has changed. I don't give money out freely, for the record. Don't ask me for change. Don't hold a sign on the corner. Dance for me. Sing me a tune. Juggle some glass bottles or something that's on fire and I'll empty my purse into your pockets and smile as I turn to leave.)

But oh, was he ever mad at me yesterday. And I told him fine, if I can't get it right then walk away and no one will blame you. He would not reply to this and we remained at a stalemate for hours and I was dreading dinner. How do you cook someone's favorite dinner when you're arguing with them? Do you burn it? Poison it? Tell them to cook it themselves?

Well, no, because all of those options are kneejerkish and silly. I cooked and I tried to get it perfect. I'm not good with Scottish food but I tried and he appreciated that and lied and said it tasted perfect. Only he doesn't say perfect, he says pehrr-fikt but you have to listen carefully or you'll miss the roll and tsk. He smiled and blew out the candles we lit, after opting to not try and jam forty-seven of them on the cake. Remember when I almost burned the castle down by lighting all forty candles on a cake for Cole? Yeah. I don't forget as much as I say I do.

And Ben told me to cut him some slack and I pointed out Lochlan hasn't exactly measured any out for me in weeks and what a weird summer it has been and Ben asked if it was the strangest one on record and I laughed and said Hell, no. Ben just stood there smiling, waiting for me to clue in and then I rolled my eyes and asked him why he was helping Lochlan strip my loyalties from Ben like old wallpaper.

And Ben glossed like he always glosses. God bless my Ben. Sometimes I wonder about him.

And we sang Happy Birthday to Lochlan and toasted him well and wished him our fondest wishes and made our speeches while he sat there and tried to absorb the outpouring of love, the way we all have, a good and usually failed effort at holding one's composure and dropping it as one by one, we stand and say some wonderful things and I could see he was doing okay so far, he had hooked a finger through a loop of control. Then I stood up and instead of a speech I made an apology and I tried to look everywhere but directly at him but boy, is that hard when a glassy pair of eyes is staring right through the place where your soul is supposed to go but he accepted my apology gracefully. I sang happy birthday to him by myself, a capella, and if you know me I'll never do that because I can't hear my own voice and it comes out so strangely in my head I will only sing along if I feel really brave or the music is already too loud to make a difference.

No one clapped but there wasn't a dry eye in the house either.

And then upstairs in the hallway, one minute before his birthday was over, he found me and pressed me up against the wall, bringing both his hands up to my face, kissing me like he meant it. He kissed me like he was really glad I didn't burn his food. He kissed me like he had a good birthday after all, and he kissed me like he never doubted for a second where my loyalties lie, even though I have told him precisely where they are every time he asks and he always says that's not important anyway, what's important is that we are here now, safe and sound.