Reclined in bed, I maneuver another heavy book on my thighs. The light is on and the air is hot. We have an air conditioner buzzing and the comforter is strewn back to my side because my reptilian skin is nonetheless always cold. Generations of Melvills and Gansevoorts parade before my eyes, but their Tea Parties and Battles of Saratoga are just clouds in my coffee.
My warrior is sleeping next to me. Out in the world, he has the bearing of a boxer about to enter the ring, always alert, always ready to protect and defend. Lying next to me, his body has a way of making itself scarce underneath the sheets, as if it were hardly there, as if I might be sleeping next to a ghost. Baby is a restless sleeper. He has places to go and shit to take care of. I tuck a foot underneath his leg as a rope back. He always makes it back, he has for aeons, but love makes it a little easier for all of us.
I have done this before. Lived abroad and travelled a bit, and sometimes train stations and airports get the better of you and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. But never before did I feel that going home would in fact be leaving home. Home is elsewhere now.
Tomorrow he will hold me and shiver before he takes me back to the airport and hands me back to my world so that I can finish what I have started and pay my dues to both our governments. I will fall apart as I wash my last cereal bowl in the kitchen, forehead against the wall, the salt of the sea mixing with my tears as it seeps in through the open windows, enticing me to stay.
His gorgeous face and loving eyes still burning in my brain, I will be pulled onto the conveyor belt of airport security, passport, boarding pass, laptop and ziplocked fluids. I will have to ask three times before I am told that it is explosives that they are testing my hands for, and wonder what would have happened had he taught me how to shoot his shotgun like we said. Perhaps it is time to finally get that “No one ever suspects the short ones” T-shirt, see if that rattles TSA’s cage.
Tomorrow my kids-size-3 feet will stomp escalators and silently scream I don’t want to go I don’t want to go I don’t want to go with each step, just like he kept repeating You can’t go you can’t go you can’t go as I sat on his lap and we listened to music the night before. I will bring the smell of the Chesapeake to Europe in my suitcase, salt, diesel, bottom feeders, warriors and all. I will present my passport to the artless immigration officer, and she will stamp it blindly unaware that this planet will never be the same again.
Oh it’s too soon, too soon, my love. I was here for the rebirth and the summer, and I will want to be here for the birthdays and the winter. I will want to be here when the ospreys are gone and the storms kick in, and our pier is covered in snow. I will drop my tropical tendencies and yield to the cold just so that your furnace can wrap itself around me. I will dream of the Christmases and fireworks that are waiting just around the corner while I write to you.
But for now, my love, I leave you with the coffee grit at the bottom of your cup and my flip flops underneath the dresser. The wine stain on the carpet and Sir Basil’s plucked flowers scattered around his pot. Dents in sofa cushions and echoes of laughter, lettuce picker hats and kisses blown across the room. I leave you with our molecules imprisoned between the sheets and that solemn vow that was spoken in the darkness of that very same bed.
I will be home soon. I promise.