I am not comfortable here.
I grew up here. Born, bred, raised. Not in that order, I guess-you'd hate that. Someday I'd like to ask you if you'd love me, but that would be silly and romantic and you know i'm neither.
And I know you love me. I know so much about you, from years of our proximity. I know you love drumming in 3/4 time the best and I know that your favorite shirt is the Bright Eyes one from the concert you dragged me to one year. You cried like a baby. I couldn't imagine you feeling those emotions. They called you sunshine. You made me happy when skies were gray. It unnerved me at that moment. I think I get it now, why you took me with you. I'd understand.
Anyway, this is where I was born. Years of therapy have made it easy for me to say that my house was bombed by political dissidents, killing my mom, dad, two brothers, and three sisters. That's seven people-practically the only seven people I'd met when I was thirteen.
Now I'm seventeen, and I'm visiting Ireland again, where I was born. I got my accent here, and I'm careful to conceal it, so I can seem like I was born in New York City, like you; never alone among the 8 million others, and so, so isolated from it all. We went to Greenwich Village one weekend, and I pretended, in my own head, that we were in love. It's half true.
It was so easy, to walk beside you on a crowded street, to stare at crowds with you in Washington Square Park and to just watch the dog run and the skateboarders, talking about things so mundane and important. I was taking pictures of you as you drummed along with a tiny girl playing acoustic guitar, using two tree branches and a rock. She told her mer name was Serendipity. I told her mine was Scott. You told her yours was Sunshine and she asked if we were in love.
You grabbed my hand and almost knocked my camera away. Honestly, I doubt I would have really cared.
"Yes," you told her, and pulled me so I fell in your lap, despite the at least five inches and forty pounds I had on you.
Serendipity smiled a little. "I could just tell," she said.
We stayed like that, in that absurd position-my head in your lap, your hand on my head, the sun in my eyes-until Serendipity left.
"Actually, I'm Sarah," she said as she walked away.
You pulled on my hair and I looked into your eyes. You grinned.
"I knew it all along, didn't you?"
Really, I'd had no idea. "How could you tell?"
"Sometimes, Scott, you just know people."
"Do you know me?"
Your eyes shifted and suddenly it was a little bit warmer. "I'm getting there."
I looked back at the skateboarders. I didn't know if I should move my head- was this an American custom I was unused to? Did close male friends lay with one another's heads in their laps? I told myself it was a risk of offending you that I wouldn't take, so I stayed and glanced at a cloud.
"You can still see the clouds in New York City," I said. "I think that's amazing."
"Oh, Scott," you sigh. "You can see the clouds anywhere if you look hard enough.
And my reply: Oh, Alex. I see the clouds in your eyes everytime you smile, or look at me.
The photos of you turned out very well, from that day. There's one with me right now, in case I forget what you look like. That seems impossible.
(close my eyes and i see)
Blonde hair, straight and uneven, cut like a surfer-boy in angles around your chin, somewhere. You're too lazy to get a haircut, so you do it by yourself. Wryly, you've called it artsy. It always frames your face perfectly. Your cheekbones are strong, and your hair reflects on them, and your entire body is pale, but you're Sunshine. Eyes of silver blue, both at the same time, so incredible that they're electric when you see me. This entire thing is incredible-to me, your existence is incredible. You move like-I don't know, shadows and light when they collide so it's almost transparent, when you know it's there anyway but just can't see it. Which is to say: grace, you've got grace, and watching a transition from point A to point B is amazing, and with you all the simplest things are amazing. You engage me, consume me, and you take up my senses, one by one. When I'm around you, I feel safe and loved and protected. I feel so important and interesting, and you make me feel like us, just the two of us, we could take on the world and never look back. A lot of the time I believe we could.
(with your good looks and brains, baby, and all my god damn demons we could go far-i'll drive)
Well, you're just beautiful. And I miss you.
Two more weeks.
* * * Ireland is greener than I remembered it. I don't really miss it when I fly home alone, as Aunt Margaret has decided to stay for a few more weeks, leaving me to my sorry devices in Brooklyn. Josh picks me up at the airport in his dad's Mercedes. I missed him enough. Josh made me feel okay when I first got here, to this unfamiliar ocean of new, where I felt so lost, so apt to drown.
I wouldn't say he rescued me, though.
We drive to your house, which I guess a month and a half across the ocean is supposed to make me not notice. Surprise party, I know; you've got Noah, Cass, Caitlin, Tristan, Charlotte, Adele, Davey, Jonah, Mikey, Brendan, Brandon, Jack, Eli, Eben, Max, Benji, and Thom-and whoever their guests are. I don't know if I feel like partying, but I appreciate the gesture.
"Hey, Josh," I say.
He looks over, ruefully. Josh has a hard time keeping a poker face. I laughed.
"You don't know that." He turned left onto Alex's street and parked in the garage.
I smirked as I glanced down the block. "That's Adele's convertible."
Josh raked a hand through his dark hair and laughed. "I guess she's visiting."
"You're a shitty liar, Begaan."
"You're a shitty subject for a surprise party."
"I miss you, man."
We leave my bags in the trunk of the car. I walk upstairs and when you open the door, it's like my own personal sunrise.
"Scott!" you pretty much yell.
I look you in the eyes, attempting cynical and jaded, but it's too infectious, your cheer. "Alex!" I yell in your face. Your arms are around my waist, then, so I pat your back. I let go as soon as I can. Josh is behind me.
His delivery of the line which is, apparently, coded to cause a Jack-in-the-Box reaction of the guests, proves terrible. "Isn't it good to be back, Brewer?"
They spring in unison, shouting "Surprise!" I only smile at the ground, dragging my head. I can fake a lot, as you may have guessed.
"Oh, man," I murmur. When I look up again, everyone I mentioned, and assorted others, greet my eyes.
"How was Ireland?" asks Caitlin, breaking from the pack.
"Okay," I reply.
"Only okay? For how sucky it was without you, it better have been fucking better than okay," she says, and jumps into my arms. I twirl her around, easily lifting her slight frame. She was so little, but so much older than almost everyone out age. It's why she'd been so lonely, probably, and why I'd survived like I did.
"Missed you, Caitie," I say into her short brown hair.
"Missed you too," she says. She jumps down and smiles at me. "I think Alex missed you, too," she says, even more quietly.
"Caitlin," I warn.
"I know, I know," she concedes. "I'm just saying."
I smile frustratedly at her and turn to Adele and Charlotte, scooping them into a huge at the same time. "Hey, girls."
"We missed you, Scotty," Adele drawls.
Holding them at arm's length, I say, "You know, there are no girls as gorgeous as my girls over in Ireland."
They giggle and move on. I say hi to so many people, and lots say they missed me. I'm both surprised and skeptical. I work the crowd as Alex plays some CD's a little too enthusiastically-I recognize Taking Back Sunday now-and finally I crash next to Caitlin and Josh on a couch.
"Tired out?" she asks.
"Jet lag," I reply. Exaggeratedly, I sag my head onto her tiny shoulder. She pushes at it with a hand.
"Lemme sleep, Caitie," I whine, but sit up.
"You're in a good mood," Josh remarks.
I kick him lightly. "The best. Is Tristan playing?"
"Yes! He almost got a record deal!" Caitlin exclaims.
"Wonderful." Tristan is an amazing guitar player, and he and Caitlin are in some sort of crazy non-relationship. Not that I know anything about those.
"I'll tell you all about the summer tomorrow," Caitlin says. I guess she sensed my fatigue, and, as well, my stress. I love that girl.
"We thought you'd want to rest before a party, but Alex insisted," Josh says after a few minutes.
I smile with my eyes still closed. "I figured."
I think I fell asleep.
* * * I must have, because I wake up to a light hand shaking my shoulder.
"Hey, Scotty," a voice says. "Time to get up."
I know it's you before I open my eyes.
"What time is it?" I ask.
"Around two a.m. You know McAllen parties. They live like no others." You sit next to me, but not too close; just close enough so I feel a little bit of your sunshine warmth pervade my just-woken-up chill.
"And yet the guest of honor still manages to fall asleep."
"Do you mind sleeping over? Josh said it's probably be okay. He brought your stuff up. I didn't want to wake you up, you must be so tired." I am used to your rapidly careening conversation and can only smile at the abrupt changes in topic. "Not at all, Alex."
There's an almost heavy pause. "Tell me about it," you say, like you can read the thoughts haunting my head.
I sigh. "It's so green over there. Everything looks so alive, and that just makes it worse. When I saw the house, my heart stopped. I almost forgot, but I couldn't, in the end. I can keep pace with my demons, but I'll never outrun them, I guess."
One corner of your mouth smiles. "Yes, you will, someday. And I loved the way you put that."
"Thanks. It was hard."
You get what I mean. "I know." Your hand touches the back of my neck. "I missed you a lot," you say. "There was no one to hang out in parks with and no one to take pictures of me. Did you get good pictures in Ireland?"
I pretend to ignore the fact that your hand is still very much touching my skin. "I got some. Mostly I was too upset."
A slight massage begins on my tense muscles. "I'm so sorry, Scotty."
There is nothing to say in a weighted pause.
"Alex?" I start.
"Yep," you almost whisper.
"I wish you were there."
A humorless chuckle comes next. "God, Scotty, I wish I was there too. I was going crazy here." At that, you put your arm all the way around me, and we fall into a haphazard hug that's the best thing I've felt in months.
One of my hands rests on your small, thin waist, and the other holds your head. I love you in that moment, the entirety of your being, and I could almost say it.
Almost, but you stop me.
"Hey," you say, straightening a little, but not so much that your arms fall from around me, or that you have to move yours.
"Hi," I say, because it's all that comes to mind, looking at you straight on.
I smile. "Serendipity."
You glance down and chuckle before you meet my eyes. "That's exactly what I said. And I meant to tell you before you left. I mean, I figured you should at least know that much, you know? But I think you do know, because, well, you just would."
"Know what, Alex?" My imagination is racing, so typically.
"I missed you a lot. I missed talking to you, seeing you, knowing that you were on the other side of the bathroom door, knowing you we're in another country."
"I missed you too..." And I know exactly what you're trying to tell me. In hugs and hands and postcards, it's been building for months, maybe years.
Experimentally, I lift my hand from your waist, and put it on your cheek. It's not as soft as I thought it would be.
Your hand circles my wrist, and your eyes close.
"Scott," you whisper, and it's more than enough.
My foreheads finds yours and your hand finds my face. "Do you know how long I've thought about this?" I ask.
"Probably as long as I have," you reply.
"Why not? I'm so glad you're back, and you're okay. I worried about you every day."
My other hand moves so I'm cupping your perfectly angled face. "Stop worrying. I'm right here," I say.
Your smile is wide. "I noticed," you murmur.
Your eyes are glittering and you're almost laughing, and then I kiss you.
One hand pulls me closer by the back of my neck, while the other idly strokes my cheek with a fingertip. It's so warm to pour all of myself into you and be filled with everything that is you in return. To find your hand, hold it, twine our fingers together, is the single most sublime experience of my life. Leaning back, kissing your neck, and hearing you hum all the while: amazing to have what I have wanted for so, so long. It's all so beautiful, my lips against yours, your smaller body crushing me in a wonderfully pleasant way, our hands together, and touching.
"Scott," you whisper again, trailing lips down my neck, hand still touching my face. "Don't go away again."
Yeah, I think dumbly. I'm not silly or romantic. "Here forever, Alex."
Your lips return to mine, and there's an urgency that must be passion. I sigh the words, exhale them into the beginnings of another kiss, but somehow you hear them anyway.
"What?" you ask.
"I love you, Alex," I whisper.
"Good, because this might make the whole sleepover thing awkward."
I laugh out loud. "Hopefully awkwardness can now be avoided."
"I think it can. So, right side or left?"
"What exactly are you presuming?" I arch eyebrows at him comically.
"That you and I share my extremely large bed instead of one of us taking the floor," he says, blue eyes all innocence.
"Alex, you have like eighteen guest rooms."
He sends me a mock-frustrated look and draws a circle on my cheek. "You said you weren't leaving."
I hug him tightly. "I'm not. As long as you don't take advantage of me in my fatigued state."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
"I have." We both laugh.
"Hey, Scott?" you begin.
"I. love you."
"Yeah," I smile into your hair. "I already knew."
the grass is always greener, as i'm sure that you've found. and if i find my way back from the last leg of this trip, i'm betting i'm finding you there. as long as it's constantly changing. as long as it's constantly sound. there's no sense of impending danger, no sense in hanging around for the winter if you're not gonna be in my arms around me, what have i got if you're there? we'll be home in december, leaves don't fall from the trees as long as you remember you are always with me. it's not my place to find it, not something that i get to choose. don't be scared 'cause you're not something i'm willing to lose. i bet you find it in the last place you look.-the get up kids "last place you look"