Standing on the deck of the pub, mind reeling, feet still, all around me the breath of students, alcohol and mints, cheap marijuana and jeans, skinny post-teenagers, all aglow on a Saturday night. Overwhelmed, surrounded, and yet, so free.
Rewind to me exiting my car, checking the lock twice, remembering the first day I picked it up from B. On that day when we no longer felt awkward to talk about bodies and sex, you and I were just a blip, not big enough to regret, not inconsequential enough to forget, but here we are, I’m driving your car and within five seconds I’ve broken the rearview mirror. A month later I would still find your blond hair on the headrest.
I cross the street to enter the pub, takkies slam onto the concrete and I rise up the stairs into the heat of the dingy sports bar, here we are, here we all are, once again. Greet my colleague N, a hug, a pat, wave to the friends and I start to unpack. Float for entrance fee, jacket and a seat for me. Remember when we used to chat on MSN, and I told you you were my Mr Impossible? And we talked about time, I said sometimes I think about being eternal, and my mind reels, I feel unending and humongous, can you believe that we’ll live forever? And you said sometimes you think about the earth rotating while you’re on it, on the planet, among all the other planets, in the entire universe. Your empty promises and your deceit are forgiven now, we’re like sidekicks lifting this music scene up, working for months, and at the end of every show, without a doubt, you come to me for a high five, and we nod at our success. Who would have guessed.
I cross the entrance towards the dancefloor, and there he is onstage, still I find myself incapable of watching him shine, maybe because I recognise that look in his eyes, and I don’t like it. I accept that it is no longer mine but I can’t make myself like it. Not yet. So I walk away from J and block out the comraderie he shares with his bandmates, the beautiful harmony arising from souls and guitars, keep my eyes locked on my shoes and head to the deck door, careful not to trip over his girlfriend.
I walk onto the deck and there you are, gangly brother-like figure, I don’t know how things have come so right with us but they have. Time. Remember six months ago when you downed that bottle of sherry, and I made the wrong decisions, and I made the right decisions, all the girls were cursing and blaming you, you bowed your head and I gave you a chance. Remember when we walked to the bus in the rain and I nearly went home with your jacket. Two hours later it was all over, your mind had changed again and I couldn’t shift things, your chaos was never mine to settle, G. I went to the sea and watched the tide rise, and lapping at my feet, it taught me to wait. Ever the twisted knotted branch, I struggle with patience, but the ocean has taught me a lot in these years. And you see it too now, now that we can sit on my bed, alone and comfortable, and the trust and energy we feel is unexplainable. I am so grateful I took the time, for us both to heal, and to come together as friends, almost fearless.
To reach me standing here under the stars, Grahamstown… I would never have imagined any of this could happen.
[My thoughts, during a typical Saturday night]