--"Something So Strong", Crowded Housefor mojo on the eve before turning thirty-two...
We were in my daddy's truck.
We had it pulled up about fourteen feet from the edge of the mountain top till it looked down on the countryside below. There was a hush over the air, making the time seem innocent, quaint as a Sunday afternoon picnic. I don't know how many hours we'd been up there. If I had a watch, I can be sure that I never once looked at it. We were what you would call to "preoccupied" to bother with the time. Sitting out and talking with the person you feel closest to has a way of preoccupying your time really quick.
For the time being, we were sitting next to each other in the bed of the truck, facing back where the earth just ended and fell away to sky, slope, and scenery. I had told Patrick that this was the perfect place to go to get away before my parents got back from their trip. It was the perfect place to go before we would have to return and continue the remainder of my fifteenth birthday celebration. It was the perfect place to go to cap off what was one magical birthday walk weekend. I felt like thanking him as if he had put together this quiet evening especially for me. The weekend, sure, but this evening was the work of someone higher up. Yet it felt like I should be thanking someone, as excited as I was and as loved as I was. I hung back my face for a bit, leaning it back up against the back of the rear cab window.
"Then we would get the groceries together. You'd grab all meat and I'd say, 'Darling, you need to put up some of that back. Don't you know I'm trying to run a healthy household?'"
I heard him scoff.
"Like I'd ever get groceries with you. You forget I've seen you trying to decide what to order at McDonald's. 'Hell's bells, I don't know what I want. Can you tell me what I want, Patrick? I don't know what's good.' Sheesh. I definitely couldn't put up with that for the hour or so it would take go grocery shopping with you. No thanks.
"And you have no idea how much meat I actually buy in a month. For all you know, I could be a meat prude when it comes to shopping."
"A meat prude, huh?"
I saw him lean his head back against the window like mine. Just like that we continued to stare off into the distance of active world below. I closed my eyes like I had just fallen on a sword, tight and focused. I was trying to picture the scene in my head in even more detail. Using our abbreviated trip into the convenience store for supplies for the hike we had just completed, I parceled out the rest of the images to construct a reasonable idea of how we would act in public were we to do the shopping together. I didn't think we would be one of those couples who are very serious about their foodstuffs--reading labels, worrying about prices, clipping coupons. Knowing the two of us together, I pictured us more of the racing down the aisles pushing two separate carts kind of couple. We would be like two horses in the meadow, not really racing, but definitely trying to keep pace with the other. I smiled a small smile for the small gift of levity in my life at the moment.
Then, when the shopping had almost been completed, I could see it in my head him pulling me away from my cart. I would protest. I would pretend to swoon in his arms. But, in the end, he would gather my willing hands in his and we would dance a facsimile of a waltz right there in the aisle. That was my joke, actually. Somewhere a long time ago, maybe even towards the beginning of the friendship, I had made the mistake of sarcastically answering that one of his anecdotes had made me so happy that I was dancing in the aisles. Ever since then, any time the two of us are together and there's an aisle nearby, my not so subtle friend has to lead me around it until I succumb to the giggles. Only, the way I had it pictured in my head at that moment, it was more than a little sweet. I could see my head resting on his shoulder and him twirling me around all to the backdrop of baked beans and tomato sauce.
I felt his eyes watching me from the side as my smile drifted in and out of my lips. I could hear the question forming in his head as easily as I could hear the silence of my breath.
"I'm just trying to picture what it'd be like for us to dance in the supermarket," I told him.
"Are we naked?"
"Yeah, we're naked and we're in the frozen food section, Eeyore."
"Which means there's ice cream nearby. Are we eating the ice cream while we're dancing?"
"No, we've decided the ice cream could wait until after the song in our heads ends. Now shush up. You're ruining our moment."
It always surprised me how seamlessly I could pigeonhole him into these fantasies of mine. With most people it was often the case of trying to fit a square peg into an electrical socket, but with him it felt like there wasn't a place I couldn't see him and I together nor an activity that was somehow beneath him. He just fits into my life so well.
I felt him place his head against my shoulder, waiting for me to snap out of my reverie. I placed my arm softly around him without opening my eyes. Before long, I realized that he was yawning directly into my ear, but I still wouldn't budge. He was like the little kid who was bored, but was told not to raise a fuss. Every time I tried to get back to my daydream there would come another yawn, which would make me yawn, until I finally had to relent.
"That was fun," I announced, opening my eyes once more. I saw him slumped over on the side of me, his right hand on my thigh. As soon as he heard my voice, it began to absentmindedly stroke my leg. I did the same with the hand I had around him to his shoulder.
"So where did you leave off?" he asked me.
"Still dancing in the aisles."
"So we never actually took the groceries home? Dude, you're the worst shopper I've ever heard of. All that food is going to go to waste."
He shook his head on my shoulder in mock disgust.
"So what do you suggest with all of it?"
"Take it home, of course."
"And where would that be?"
"The spinning house," he laughed.
"We are not going to build a spinning house, sugar. Not in my lifetime."
"Let me guess--two story, bay windows, facing the sunset."
"Would that be so bad?"
Again, he shook his head.
We would walk the groceries inside, bag after bag, making a game of it. We would see who could leave the bag in the most inconvenient place possible. I would start off leaving the first bag at the threshold of the front door, making it so Patrick would have to step around it every time he came in. Then he would leave his on its side across the kitchen floor. I would reciprocate by flipping my next bag upside down on the counter so he would have no choice to spill its contents if he wanted to move it. Lastly, he would perform the ultimate act of foodstuff lunacy. He would tie up the last shopping bag as if he were bear-proofing it and leave it hanging like a chandelier in the middle of the dinner table. Then, to add injury to insult, he would proceed to swing it, pendulum-style, preferably in middle of a romantic dinner together. "Oh, watch out for the crazy shopping bag. Oh no, it's coming near your head, Breannie! Better duck."
Such is my fate in life, even in my daydreams he torments me.
But, Hell's bells, it would be a beautiful house. Stone walkway leading up to huge preserved wood doors. It would have two staircases--one from the den, the other from the kitchen. Speaking of kitchens, ours would be huge--full of every gadget and gizmo we could get our grubby hands on from the infomercials. We would cook every night. We would entertain every night. We would have a pool with a modest waterfall effect, where we could go swimming every night if we wanted to. It would blend into the scenery because we had both decided long ago that our swimming pool would resemble a swimming hole because swimming holes are more fun. And the bedroom would be orange, as all my bedrooms are, with a bed the size of Texas.
That would be our house.
I got excited.
It didn't take much back then. It's hard to pinpoint an exact cause and effect, but being together was natural to both of us. I don't think there was ever a point where I felt awkward or out of place when it came to my showing how much I wanted him at times. There's always been that level of trust between us from the get-go. There's never been a reason for me to hold back or a reason to feel like I had to slow things down. I'm not a shy gal. Never have been. He, more than anyone, knew this to be true, that I could only be Breanne--no more, no less. It's in my nature to show affection. It's in my nature to be physically intimate with the people in my life. It's in my nature to give and receive love with the ease of someone who has no reason to distrust love.
I scooted over next to him and positioned myself to sit on his lap. It really did feel like a perfect night and all this imagining of our future together was making me just a wee bit frisky. As I sat side saddle in his lap, I place my left arm behind his neck for leverage. Then I begun to softly kiss the side of his neck. I tasted the salt on his skin, the familiar scent of his clothes, everything that reminded me of him was exactly where I remembered them. I moved my face off of him to see how he would react. He bent towards me to nuzzle his cheek against mine. It gave me a small chill as if he were lightly skating over the surface of my face.
I could feel our future together in his face, in his every touch. All I wanted to do was to forget all the daydreaming and the imagining, and get to the actual living this life I had all planned in my head. I wanted to rush headlong into the honeymoon in fourth gear, Christmases with his family and Thanksgivings with mine, what-do-we-name-the-kids portion of our life together. I wanted to skip all this prelude and come right into the big show already.
I positioned my free hand underneath his shirt and asked him if that felt good.
"Yeah, it does," he said simply, breathlessly, as if the words were tripping up what he really wanted to do.
I kissed his lips, trying to silence his impatience with the one thing I knew he could endure through. It felt like I peered inside him, poured inside of him, through that tenuous connection. At that moment I was the recipient of a very valuable birthday gift, one that I didn't even know I had coming.
"Caitlin," I whispered to myself, mouthing the name I've always wanted for my daughter.
I kissed his face again, anointing the name with the passion winding up inside of me. I closed my eyes, resting them for the long night ahead.
One by one, I let them all slip out, as the night wore on. I don't know if I actually wanted him to hear them, but it was like I could finally give the names form, some kind of substance that didn't seem real before. There I was, alone with the person, I knew I'd be spending the rest of my life with, who would be the father to our children, my soulmate, the one.
Maybe it was just the birthday talking. Quite frankly, I always look upon my fifteenth birthday as being the one where I felt like an adult. That's when everything I had imagined as kid stopped seeming like a dream and started to make sense as a reality to me. I could smell it in the air. These weren't some pipe dreams that had no chance of coming true. That birthday he gave me something more valuable than any other gift I'd received up until that point. He gave me the hope that what I was feeling was valid, that I wasn't just fooling myself into believing that I was capable of loving someone else. He gave me the courage I was lacking to ever believe that I deserved a future that was happy and bright and the tiniest bit crazy.
That evening, as we made love on high, I started to believe there was such a thing as forever and that, if I was entitled to it, it would be with him.
I've never faltered in that belief. From that day on, I've never faltered in the concept that there are certain people who tumble into your life who never quite tumble out of it. They get stuck on you like a burr in your britches until it almost seems like there never was a time you were without them.
He's been the one constant in my life that I've always taken for granted would always be in my life. He's been my brother. He's been my friend. He's been my lover. He's been my worst enemy. The point is that as long as I've considered life something tragically beautiful and impossibly sublime, he's been at the forefront of it. I don't think there's a day that goes by where he isn't in my thoughts. I don't think there's a decision I make that isn't at least the smallest bit influenced by what I think he would think of me were I to decide one way or the other. He's the drum beat of my life, keeping rhythm while I work my way through the melody.
That's why I always think of that night when one of our birthdays rolls around. I remember that whole weekend as being the weekend we cemented the fact we'd be tied at the hip. I remember thinking as we lay sweaty and tired, about an hour late from when we were supposed to be home to meet my parents, that he and I should share every birthday together.
Even though that's proven impossible, I still manage to call home about thirty minutes before he gains another year. I call him. I wish him a happy birthday. And I always tell him the same thing, if not always in the same words.
I tell him that each birthday isn't just a celebration of another year of his being here one earth. I tell him it's also a celebration of another year closer to spending forever with my one and only best friend.
Happy Birthday, Eeyore.Wo ai ni
. Forever. For always.
Labels: Friendship, Future, Maturity, Patrick