It came easy to him, to just open up and begin talking about his life, with me. When we walked around the property, Danny showed me all of the plants that he and his wife had tended to. I was able to recognize things, relating them to the climate, and he realized that I liked ‘flowers n shit’, too. I even showed him photos from my laptop of the things I’ve done in my own gardens.
“I’m going to need help this summer,” he reasoned, looking out in to his little Eden.
I brought him over yellow begonias in a terra cotta pot with old English ivy growing down the sides. He said it was beautiful. And every day I dropped in to talk, I would gauge how he seemed to be doing. Always seemed to be doing a little better, given the occasional sadness. In everything I did I reminded myself of the woman still there, still loved very much, and I always let him tell me about who she was.
What he didn’t fully realize was that I was also inspired to come back from a dark period in my life, because of him. While he assumed I was giving him attention, he overlooked the fact that I might not eat that day if it wasn’t for the Cheerios, waiting. And I might not know what to do with myself if I didn’t have to get over to Danny’s where his home was under attack.
Another time I brought my meal over, an apple. Original sin.
I explored a dining room while he graded bulky cardboard science projects, often cursing as he unfolded them, looking for graphs and pictures.
“I just want this fuckin’ shit outta my house.” A teacher’s work is never done.
Meanwhile I was touching things on a bookshelf, lots of books on Christianity. He almost became a priest at one point in time. I emptied my change in to a little dish of coins. Collection.
Then one night, in the rain, we jumped in to the hot tub. It was the first time he had opened it back up in many months. I noticed that he never removed the chain from around his neck, as he let the water touch it. A blue light came on underneath and I watched our hands collect the bubbling foam, gathering it up and tossing it over. A lot of quiet moments, when we didn’t speak.
My mind is always running, always creatively observing, as I watch this man.
Opening up some doors, he said, “I just wanna see something. There was this jacket…”
And all of her clothes are there, lining the entire thing left to right, a beautiful master closet.
“I’m sorry. Are you OK with this? Is this weird?”
I smiled inside. Of course, it’s weird. But I am accompanying on this adventure. “It’s fine.”
He told me a story about a golden Pooh bear I found at the edge of a guest room bed. He had set it in the Disney store’s window with her name on it, during a scavenger hunt.
“Here it is.” He pulled out a blazer in hounds tooth fashion and took it off the hanger.
“You always say I talk about money and shit, but seriously, do you have any fucking idea how much this cost? I just, really quick, I just wondered…”
I put it on. It fit. It was lovely. And I saw his hand out, respectively wanting it right back. I told him it was beautiful. And that the golden Pooh story was awesome.
Last night he showed me a photo album from the Pooh scavenger hunt. Afterward they had dinner at the first place they’d dated, and he presented a rose to her with promises tied on. The promises had been pressed into the book and he tried reading them out loud. His hands had been following along with the words, dirty nails from when he had his hand in the soil earlier – but he stopped.
So I read them.
He had a moment. And he hugged me, and asked me what I thought about him. I did not give an answer.
He asks me, all of the time, what I’m thinking.
“Well. For the past however long, things have been this way, I was just thinking about how I have you, this place, this dog, and your wife on my mind. Every day. I think about you guys.”
We spent some time weeding the islands in his front yard. Neighbors looked on. I stayed low to the ground. I bet they all look at us and consider his fragile state. Everything is definitely very delicate…and I’m not just talking about him.
Our moments together are important to me, and I feel driven to the center of them. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really like this guy.
I wish I could follow my heart.