So many of the tales of my life are poignant or sad. But this is a tale of today and today is filled with sunshine and resolution.
I guess this story begins with a Scot. My ex fiancee and I have survived the loss of our child, the break up, his subsequent children, me marrying Andy, and me losing everything right down to my sanity. We have loved, hated, missed, resolved, stood beside and regretted. Last week, the black mariahs had settled down around me. Life was just.. stuck… So he phoned me, when I wouldn’t answer, he text me until I did. As he always had the talent to do, he dug every hurt out. I cried, I laughed, I finally took deep breaths…
An hour later, my phone beeps… To my utter shock, a plane ticket home to see my son. accompanied with this note.
“My wee mouse, here is a start. I won’t hear a word, pack your bags. Stop fearing the next step so. You have done more than most I have known. Be my brave woman. Love, Mac”
This sentiment has been echoed over and over the past few weeks, from many if not most of my closest friends. Don’t let Andy win, keep getting up, life will ease… things will sort themselves. Keep your head down, work hard and it all will change. But mostly, we believe in you. So I thank, all who stood beside me.
Four years ago, I was just home in Dallas from Mac’s vacation house in Oregon, near where I live now. I had a painful broken foot and ankle in a cast. It was Robbie Burns day. His mates, the merry band of expats and the like gathered. We laid out a spread and the night past in true form. Once mellowed by Scotch and company, Mac romantically recited-To a Mouse, by Robbie Burns, as he named me so, years before. It was a top night.
I just retold that story this morning. To another man. A man who has had my six for more than 18 years. Sullivan of my lie and die team. The foreign aide crew I worked with and have known for almost two decades of my life. All the adult years that count.
He turned up with Tippy, another of the crew on Saturday, always an event of much joy. Jesus, Mary and Joseph we laughed so hard, raised hell and danced with the fallen angels. They bring me back to life, and I shed my velveteen rabbit skin and come alive anew. My cheeks go flush and stay flushed. My eyes actually twinkle, my nostrils flare, my boobs become fuller. I just want to be near them. To feel their gravitational pull. I never get jealous of whoever is in their life, if a woman flirts with them, etc. Because I know in my heart, we all have a bond no mere mortal can break. We bunk together upstairs when they come to stay, Sulls and I- in the big bed, Tipp rocks the twin. My cozy treehouse nest becomes a den of whispers, songs, passed booze and memories that turn into to tall tales.
Grinning like a fool I was laughing for my worth and I jumped on the bed right after this photo was taken. Sulls, grabbed me up to him, hugging me so tight. He kissed my hair and really held tight. Then he said something so moving my heart stopped. He told me every time he saw me or held me, it was like coming home. We are both Louisiana natives, I thought and hugged him back tightly….
He tucked me tight to him and we all talked softly until I fell asleep. I slept like the dead after weeks of insomnia. I will spare you the fluff of the morning and move to the meat.
Tipp had gone home and there we were, two weary souls watching a bit of netflix, cozed up arm to arm. He pulled me under his arm so that my head lay in his chest. He smoothed my hair back and began talking to me. I recognized the tone right away. It is the one that comes from us naturally when we are amidst chaos and destruction. Meant not to startle or shock. I sat up and looked him in the eye. He held my hands and described a possibility. Opened a book that did not exist and read me words differently than I had ever heard. In the next coming moments he took a paint brush and created a picture, so that I might see what it could look like. When he was done, he kissed me ever so gently and went downstairs with his gear, to shower and take coffee with E.
I laid there in shock. Shock for many reasons. I think best when the music is playing so on it went. I bit my nails, cried a lil and stared at the bunting flapping in the breeze. He came upstairs and I was so deep in thought it took me a second to register. I heard a laugh and realized he had taken a pic of me, then another…then he said …”Well?”
Yes I said in my mind, as the camera kept clicking. I think he heard me. For the phone went down and his lips covered mine.
We spent the rest of the day not putting a name to it. Just waiting to see if it changed us. By night we were still us, so like two children to excited to0 sleep, we lay there and talked through hours of the night.
“Is it meant to feel like this, so easy, no nerves.. no fear of what if? Am I meant to feel so at peace?”
“Shush now darlin,yes. I just want you to be at peace, it is what I want most.”
“God bless it I am scared. I can’t lose you, Sulls, I couldn’t survive it. R U sure!”
“You ready to have some good times, Red? I reckon we both deserve it. I promise you baby, I will be good to you. You just keep being you with me, alright?”
“Is this, what is this? What are we doing? What if I fuck it up, what if I am too much or not enough? I look nothing like I used to and my life is a mess and YOU are still so you. You still all quiet and handsome and I feel dead and gone.? Why now? Why never before?”
“Red, there was never any room between you and Rusty. You loved us all, but Rusty took up any extra space left… Our timing was off. One of us was always with someone else…..You look and feel damn good to me…..You call it whatever you want to.”
” But my temper and my past, E… and fuck… You are in the aide biz still and I am not, really. What will the crew think and what if you meet someone you want more… ( I start to cry) “
He starts laughing and gathers me close, as I cry into his chest. I start to really sob. He sits up, says he will be right back and goes downstairs. I am sitting in a small knot on the bed when he returns. Two glasses and a bottle of wine. He turns the fan on, the music and uncorks the bottle in one easy long line of gestures.
Ryan Bingham croons with his husky drawl from the speakers. The roar of the fan fills the room, the bunting and fairy lights sway above us. He just looks at me smiling. As if turning thoughts around in his mouth to see how the feel. We drink silently. He has Blonde shaggy hair and it takes the years off of him. He is sunburnt from being in Central America. He had bright eyes, a very strong jaw, full lips and crooked nose and two scars on his face. I know this man, I know him as well as I know myself. Being the capricious insane woman that I am, I put my hand in his and say let’s slow dance. With a chuckle he pulls me up and away we went.
“I can’t promise you we will never argue, I know for a fact we will. I can’t promise you forever, but I can promise you my friendship forever. I am mature enough to see what I could lose by us being together. I value our friendship as much as you do. I can go as slow or fast as you need me to go. I know you like my favorite song, baby.”
And that right there did it.
Hallelujah, a song sung and by Ryan Bingham came on and we began to kiss as we danced. An unspoken agreement. The night unfolded before us and took us in. It gave me a new place to start telling a fresh story. A tale of resurrection. A man who doesn’t ask me to forget my past or pretend he is the only man that ever existed in it.
So this morning as we crossed the bridge into Portland, My ipod plugged into his radio, the song came on again. And he looked at me and smiled, and as we sang these lyrics:
So tell me now if your singing can bring me
Another day with my feet on the ground
I miss living and living misses me
I miss it so much that im holding me down
For all the things that I never could change
For all the reasons that I never understood why
I feel alone, baby
I’m dead and gone, baby
There’s somethings wrong
cause you know I still feel alive
My train is rolling down the line
And I’m waiting till it to bring me a dream
For holding you up in my eyes
Oh feel my love, honey
From up above, honey
Oh don’t give up on me cause I’m coming down
I’m not a one nighter
I’m not a flat liner
I’ve everything in between the harmony you’re singing loud
He held my hand. And there on Bobbie Burns day driving into the city I flew out of four years ago, a wee mouse silently said…Hallelujah.