If there is one aspect of my story of which I am certain, it is this:
It can always start over.
I don’t know how to talk about the life I’m now living, about the man I’ve finally chosen. It is still so new, and even this week, sitting quietly on the balcony, I felt as if I’d woken up to a world I didn’t recognize.
All of my years, I’ve had the impression I was running. One day, I hope to sit down and catalogue from what. But for now, it is enough to just appreciate the vast ocean I’ve crossed. And to recognize that I’ve arrived.
Augustus sleeps in the room next to mine, while my son, when not scaling mountains and oft-wandering his young and new and just-beginning life, sleeps a floor below.
It’s the farthest we’ve ever been from each other, my son and I. We don’t talk about it; I’m not sure what we’d say if we did.
“What the hell took you so long?” I imagine he’d want to know.
And I’d have no answer to give.
So instead I’m quiet, and just listen and observe as he shows Augustus his camera lenses, his photos, discusses with him his climbing and his travels. My son moves easily about the house, and for whatever reason is confident in Augustus. Perhaps because Augustus is older than I am, wiser, more generous, more kind.
“Thank you for being so good with him,” I tell Augustus, but Augustus brushes me off, saying that my son is brilliant and a joy and that it’s effortless, things I already knew but never expected to share.
“We’re building a life together,” he tells me, and I nod, but secretly I’ve no idea what that concept means, and my thoughts turn frequently to my sister in her final days, wild-eyed-asking for the true-love husband who could no longer bear to watch her die.
To assume we’re going to continue on long enough to have it qualify as an entire life seems to tempt the fates. I hope so, yes, but I’ve also seen it go the other way, and swiftly.
On nights when I long for him, which are many, I sneak into Augustus’ room in my knee socks and a nightie. Usually he’s still awake, wearing his reading glasses, a vodka on his nightstand.
“May I sleep in your bed?” I ask, and I’m always surprised by how genuinely submissive my voice sounds.
For some reason, Augustus makes me shy.
Mostly the kind of shy that feels good.
As in, I experience myself as young, innocent, nascent.
Although, I can read in Augustus’ face that it comes off as demure, and I like that, too.
“Undress for me,” he often responds, resting his periodical on his lap.
In these moments, I perceive myself more fully through his expression than I ever could independently of it.
Sometimes I perceive myself so fully that it hurts.
“Once I’m done with you, perhaps I’ll send you away,” he’ll occasionally say.
It’s an old joke, one that plays on a theory he has about how to maintain my interest.
But so far, he’s never sent me away. Not once.
Not even after he’s done with me.