This week my son, Django, went off with his dad, The Piranha, to the islands.
This was a big step, I guess. Because there have been years, off and on, that the two wanted very little to do with each other. And that’s in addition to those years when I shunned The Piranha altogether, finding my son’s innocence too precious to spoil.
Those were the years that I wished The Piranha would just go far, far away. Which were contrasted by many more, when I wished I knew where he was.
It’s a lot of years, is maybe what I’m saying.
Though the general themes are pretty well established, I’m not sure that we’re any closer to finding the ending to our story, we three.
But tonight, as I wait at the airport for their plane to arrive, I find myself rolling back to the beginning.
It’s a beginning that precludes Django, naturally. Back when it was just me and The Piranha.
Or perhaps just me and my incredible love and adoration for a man whose grittiness was palpable.
Or perhaps just me and my fascination with myself, ultimately.
That does seem to be the determining factor in so many of my relationships. “Do I like the character I create for this particular man?” being the defining question.
One forever-night ago, the character I’d created for the Piranha was in an airport just like this, in a short brown suede skirt and motorcycle boots, waiting on his arrival.
She was smoking a cigarette outside the terminal and scowling openly at every single person that passed.
And I suppose it makes sense that I loved The Piranha, from that perspective, because I love that girl.
I love how good she is at pretending. Because I know for a fact that she’s as delicate as they come. But tonight her act is so fucking convincing.
And I wish I could talk to her. I’m curious about her mind, her maturation.
About the long, falling-down path that will lead her to me.
But instead I watch as a scruffy man with a great strut sneaks up behind her and grabs her tight in his leather arms.
And she sinks into him, rests the back of her head on his chest.
“Did you bring me something?” she asks.
The man laughs.
“You know, I forgot until the last minute,” he says. “But then I found this.”
He lets her go, reaches into his pocket while she turns and watches expectantly.
The man pulls a thick silver bolt from his pocket.
When he says he found it, he means it literally. In the street, beside a puddle of grease.
And it’s for this, of all crazy things, that our character has reserved her smile.
She fits the bolt over the knuckle of her thumb.
“I love it,” she says.
And she actually does.
Silly little waif.
I don’t have the silver bolt anymore.
But tonight the memory of it is oddly precious.
It almost makes me want to go outside and rummage around in the gutter, to see if I can’t find something to give The Piranha when he lands. I wonder for a second if he’d remember.
But he would. I know he would.
Because I once overheard him telling that exact story to Django, a mixture of nostalgia and hurt in his voice.
“Your mom used to be so easy to please,” was his master conclusion.
“Wait. You gave Delilah a dirty bolt you found in the street?” Django asked, confused. “Are you serious?”
I laugh now, remembering this, too. It’s all so gorgeous and stupid.