On my way back from the Gay Denny's, I dropped in at the corner drugstore that was also on the way out, and spent a happy few minutes selecting photos from the ones I'd dropped on my memory stick to have printed off. This was crucial to my cunning plan. Also crucial to my cunning plan was the stop in at Target, and the purchase of a certain item
of nightwear. I stopped back home and grabbed the frame, the keychain, and the fishie, plus the alternate entertainment, and then I was on my way again, picking up photos, wincing at the blue-green smudges (legacy of a leaky pen and then the scanner), and proceeding. I have his token wrapped around my neck. It's only fair that he should have some of me.
I wasn't counting on his mother being there. I'd been anticipating a quiet afternoon where we could watch whatever there was for the watching, without the possibility of commentary or disturbance. I was probably going to cry. A lot. I was going to ask if he could invade my personal space, and then cling to his arm for the physical reassurance of his presence, skin on skin. The presence of his mother shifted us towards more formality.
I presented him first with the Wii boxers, then with the framed photo. The boxers went straight in his room, and so did the photo; I saw later that it was placed prominently on a dresser.
We chattered over tea. His mother mentioned, among many other topics, and apropos of nothing, as far as I could tell, how much effort and determination went into her marriage, and making it happen day by day. They went into it with their eyes wide open, she said, and worked hard every day for it. (If that topic was aimed at us, it may have been let off half-cocked, as ... yes, I've worked hard day after day for this friendship and so has he, but ... eyes wide open, I know he'd sooner kiss a Wookiee.)
I'm so used to not having either of his parents there, and I'm so used to not wearing the star after this year and a half without, that I plain forgot that I had it pulled up tight around my throat like a choker until I wrapped my hand around it and felt its familiar shape in my fingers while listening to his mother. His mother didn't comment. She might not have seen it. I'm not ashamed of who I am or what I believe, but there are some discussions that it's not best to court (the one with his dad would Not Be My Cup of Tea, in particular). I didn't try to draw attention to it, and I slid the string to lengthen it, and dropped it discreetly down my top. (Long string. Low neck. Ample cleavage.) It disappeared, although I would slide my hand along the string and clasp it before dropping it back every so often.
After the Mythbusters (bamboo! exploding toilets!) and the animated Clone Wars, there was The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice
, which was delightful, despite not having seen the prior stuff. I had to point out to his mother that no, really, I watch TV when he sits me down in front of it, and pretty much only then. I had my notebook out, and at some random point asked some random question about plotting, and then we had to not-explain the zombies to his mother. I gave him the fishie and the keychain. Evil smiles indeed.
The movie was interrupted to discuss dinner. My best friend is very protective of me, and declared the meatloaf off-limits on the grounds of peppers, and pizza was out as it would have involved pineapple (his mother's favorite); there were, however, other leftovers, and there was salad. Ah, yes, the salad. So Mr. Bachelor started searching the refrigerator door for the available salad dressings, holding up the Worcestershire sauce as a joke. Somehow, this led to excavating any and all salad dressings from the refrigerator and looking at their best-before dates. Out of what I swear was more than ten, only four remained, with much byplay between Mr. Bachelor Who Doesn't Look At The Expiration Dates of Salad Dressings He Never Uses, and His Mother, with the name of the absent His Father Who Buys Salad Dressings Even Though He's Not Going To Be There And No One Else Will Eat Them invoked more than once. I found myself incoherent with laughter.
Mike's Refrigerator was promptly added to the Outline of Inconveniences that I was drawing, before the zombies, and then I had to do some juggling before finally hitting on the solution that they'd have it where I planned it, but over the phone, because Connie doesn't get to see Mike's place until the play-test. That worked, and we danced around explaining Mike, too. Happily, his dad does some writing, and therefore his mother is used to the wackiness of writers; my best friend put in that if not for the late-night-awake thing, he'd be fairly sure that I keep paper handy for those middle-of-the-night inspirations. Aren't nocturnal writers entitled to middle-of-the-day inspirations?
Dinner happened, and the movie continued. The ending reminded me of a certain Gackt movie, ever so slightly, which is quite a bit of a spoiler for the three people on my friendslist who have seen said movie. I started leaking out the eyes. My upper lip was stiff, but my chin wobbled. I couldn't lie to him and tell him that I was OK, but I could say that I would be, because I was not about to break down in front of his mother.
We watched the Buffy I'd brought -- one episode, because of the hour and the school night. There was the usual sound system hiccup, and we laughed at each other over it, as it's an old familiar joke by now. His mom called his dad so he wouldn't call while she was trying to get some sleep. If I'm ever 38 years married, let me have that much love in my marriage, and I will count myself blessed. They get up each other's noses all the time -- and they make it work. I started leaking again at that.
We watched through to the credits just for the Mutant Enemy bit.
We stood outside for a while. I gave him the other photo printouts, and we looked through them. I hooked my arm through his, and rested my bare wrist against his arm, skin to skin for reassurance. I cried last night. A lot. He wasn't surprised. There was Orion; there was the Men In Black reference about Orion's belt and the galaxy on it. There I was, leaning against the wall, in pieces. There he was, comforting me. There I was, confessing how scared I was. There he was, reassuring me that I did too have a chance: I'd been noticed, after all, and I just had to be careful to not be too arrogant. I dove into his shoulder and wasn't sure how to tell him that it wasn't the new life I was scared of, it was leaving him. (And he has had such a hand in creating this creature standing tall, self-confident, happy and hilarious and so very witty. In his eyes I am so, and I become so.)
I've never had the same best friend for eight years before.
It gets easier, the more times you have to move away.
(I don't want it to get easier.)
I have his phone number.
Indeed I do.
He started walking toward the house, and I lost my composure. I didn't want his last sight of me in who knew how long to be me in pieces; I went after him and he held me some more. This time I managed to keep what little remained of my composure when we parted. He always tells me to stay out of trouble. Me, stay out of trouble?
I did not look back. He did not look back. I was safely in my car before I broke out in the ugly, desperate, gasping sobs. When I could see to drive, I drove home. And by the time I was home, it didn't hurt quite so badly, and I was already making plans for what we will get up to the next time we see each other, and drafting a message saying the important things that I might have managed to say in person if we'd had the time alone to get around to that level of naked honesty. And I called Dawn. And I clung to IRC with all my might. And I wrote the message, and then I added more book-plotting, since we didn't get time for that either.
I don't sign myself very often on our little emails tossed back and forth, but I signed myself to this. What I am, I hold in my hands, and hold them before him. ( Collapse )