Caleb found an interesting old photo last night. In it he and Christian have me swinging high between them, their arms up in the air, me dangling from their hands. I am about eight or nine in this picture, Caleb is eighteen. I think Cole took it with his pocket 110 Kodak camera. He took that thing everywhere and it was a far cry from his eventual collection of high-end Canon cameras, some of which I still have.
Caleb said he was going to have the photo framed. I just rolled my eyes. Andrew and some of the others kept remarking on it, all evening long.
Look how little you were! I bet they could still do that. Let's try.
I woke up in my usual man-sandwich. Ben has taken to sleeping wrapped around my back again but instead of moving back to his coffin position in order to actually sleep he's not moved an inch, waking up warm and suffocating and comfortable as shit. I don't mind the weight, but what little amount of room I have for wiggling is all but gone and soon I wonder if they'll just kick me out all together because they get closer and closer as years go by. Lochlan sleeps facing me, his chin on my head, arms around my neck and shoulders. He heats up to a good hundred and ten degrees each night and basically I'm sure I begin each morning poached, sous vide, and ready to eat.
Fitting, since no one brought me egg mcmuffins this morning. Ben, get your clubs.
I might only be kidding.
We had breakfast on the porch with Sam. Toast. Captain Crunch. Coffee. Bananas. Sam did a little off-the-cuff, off-the-clock counselling and Ben was very gracious considering he has the unfortunate designation of being married to us and all of the baggage we carry around from place to place as wayfaring freaks.
He is the glue, the enthusiasm and the fervent wish for routine and for home that keeps this solidly moving ahead. I don't actually have to fret about being left out. They both do as we sometimes pair off for geographic or argumentative reasons. He does not want to be left behind for historical reasons so it's in our best interests to keep him informed and educated.
One of the things I learned over the past two or three years is that when you are a kid and things happen you are forgetful, resilient and forgiving. You gloss easily. Years go by and you dismiss horrifying betrayals and events as water under the Bridget and then you mature and realize those things (which you thought everyone went through) weren't normal and may very well have had an incredible mark on shaping who you are now.
This is where we are today. Currently both the departures of Cole and Jacob are less terrifying than other things, eventual tragedies sure but not something that shapes a person except in future displays of emotion. I cry randomly now. I can't help it. It starts like a nosebleed and I can pinch my face and sit down for a minute and it passes. Sometimes I just ignore it and stand there breaking someone's heart as we choose lightbulbs or hull strawberries.
Other things come back to the forefront as I struggle to coexist with those who shaped me into who I am today. Are they to be thanked or blamed for this mess? Did Lochlan stunt my growth with all of the candy and g-forces and teenage lust of the early days on the midway or did Caleb stunt it with his own brand of despicable evil, bestowed on someone who surely would have been an angel, had she been left to thrive but instead wound up in some sort of multi-decade game of Stockholm syndrome, symptoms coming and going like the phases of the moon?
Ben doesn't actually care. If he knows all the details then he has more power. If he has all the details then the past can't shut him out, and he can't be dismissed on account of being a bystander. An outsider. A saviour, of sorts. A deliverer from evil. A hero.
I say that with the tears just running and he finally looks at me and his eyes are all but swimming in the soft morning light and he says me? A hero? I nod and he just shakes his head.
I never asked for much. But then I got you guys and realized I have everything now.