We got caught in a thunderstorm on the Key Bridge that day. Got engulfed in a single epic cloud of rain, 180 feet above sea level. Cars slowed down, turn signals blinked. There was nowhere to look except right in front and at the steel trellis of the bridge above. People squinted through the downpour, squirmed in their seats, prayed that it would be over soon, but not you. You were in your element. You are a chaos monger.
By the time we drove back from Annapolis, the sky had cleared up and the lanes ahead of us were crawling with four-wheeled junebugs, all shiny, metallic and cumbersome going uphill. You held my hand across the center console, and I wished to God I could just freeze that moment, my name on your mother's calendar, the silly spaghetti commercial aria on the radio, and the fuchsia sun stuck to our rearview mirrors. Like the time I flew from Minneapolis to Spokane seven years ago, when three hours on an airplane felt like a neverending journey into the sunset, I wanted the road never to end and imagined the sun sticking to the back of the truck like a stretch of pink bubblegum.
I was lying on the couch, belly down ass up. We had spent the evening at your local little haunt, and I was introduced to the sweetness of yet another one of your friends, and yet another suggestion to stay forever. Grape pucker shots and beer over the Ravens game made for intimate, comfortable mellowness that kicked in at that very moment when the front door closed and we were again the only two people on the planet. You lay down on top of me, covering my pint-sized figure from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Your fingers stroked my hair. You were heavier than your body; I etched the sensation of your weight into the memory of my frame. Your lips whispered secrets of the universe into my ear. I was anointed, uplifted, loved, worshiped as your breath mixed with my tears of release, peace, and devotion. Your body pinned me down into freedom.
Months ago, in a letter, I had written to you that I longed to feel your heaviness, all of it, just to make up for the decades [centuries?] that I have had to live without your touch.
I got my wish.
The first time I saw pictures of the wooden pier behind your house, I would have laughed at anyone that might have told me I would be sharing it with you one day. We were in different places back then.
The first time I walked its planks, you ran back into the house for another beer and I took a mental snapshot of your knuckles knocking on the bark of the oak tree, the house and your truck in the background, your determined, springy walk making its way across the lawn. It was difficult to believe that the tiniest home in the neighborhood could offer space enough for your spirit to stretch its wings and house all that you are.
You could be standing right next to me, but I swear to God, when I see your truck parked in front of the house, my heart settles into peace. He is home. He is safe.
Just a few nights ago, we went fishing off the pier. You brought your beer, I had my wine. You set up your paraphernalia and studied the water and the wind; I took pictures of crab traps, my yellow Chucks, and reflections of the sun on the water beneath the boat suspended right next to us. I looked back towards the house, and your truck was parked in front. The bubblegum sunset stretched out across the sky. The oak stood in her place and you were next to me. Wink.
All was as it was supposed to be and the world was well.