Iron & Wine – Cinder and Smoke
On Monday he picks me up and we get coffee at Local Joe’s. He orders orange pekoe tea and spills it all over our wobbly table. We laugh and relocate. Our banter is easy and immediate. We bounce over topics, smiling, stopping only to sip from cups and chuckle. I don’t think to be nervous. We leave to check out our favourite used bookstore but it’s closed so we blow off plans with friends and drive. We drive a half hour out to the beach, my beach. I show him the house I grew up in and we stumble over rocks on the frigid shore to find Orion. It feels like a refueling, like I’ve been starving myself until now. I gulp in the ocean air and the familiar landmarks of my youth. I hold the nostalgia cupped in the middle of my tongue and then swallow it down, thick and sweet at the back of my throat. Lawrencetown.
On the way back to the city I scroll through his mp3 player and then hook up mine. We introduce each other to all the music we had been missing. I watch his fingers drum out beats on the steering wheel and search out the leftover Christmas lights on the houses we pass. The night feels young so we go to a bar for open mic. We whisper to each other under the music and my leg finds his under the table. Thigh to thigh. He’s always cold, he says, but I warm him. I pull the knit hat from his head and run my fingers through his short hair. His eyes close. When they open there is a moment hanging between us, the moment to lean forward and claim what is out there, on the table for the taking. The moment to lead him, or allow myself to be led, down to the dark anonymity of the stairwell. Reduce ourselves to quiet breaths and fingers exploring new lands. Then, one of us looks away or takes a swig of beer and just like that the string falls, the moment lost.
On Tuesday we go to The Last Word. We lose ourselves in stacks of books, organized perfectly for only the owner, Wayne, to find. I pile up my choices, reading backs and first pages, while he leans against the counter talking to Wayne. When I go to pay, I pull out the hand written gift certificate my parents give me every Christmas and try to pay the balance but my money gets waved away.Wayne asks about my parents, soul mates, and tells us that this is what it is all about; finding someone you can be comfortable with and then the falling in love comes easy. I choke on a giggle and avoid his eyes. When we get back to the car he pulls out Bluebeard and Heart of Darkness and adds them to my pile.
“You’re not going to make me read this, are you?” I ask, holding up the Conrad.
He laughs and I put it back on my pile, I guess so.
On Wednesday he is determined to kiss me. He lounges on my bed as we decide what to do. Then in an instant his hand is at my back and my lips are on his. The rest of the night is a blur. We walk through Point Pleasant Park and my gloved hand finds his for the first time. The world is hushed. The naked trees curling against the burning sky. He stops me and our cold noses meet. He shakes his head as we continue to walk and I demand to be in on the joke.
I smile, knowing.
On Thursday he meets my friend, B. Charms her. Wins her over, easily, as though he’s been doing it all his life. They argue and I take the impartial stance. I sit across from them on the bed and play neutral. I remember that she never really liked my ex and this tugs at the corner of my mouth. She gives me the thumbs up when he goes to the bathroom. We go to Tribeca and dance until we are sweating. I dance battle with a guy in a striped shirt who lifts me up and spins me around when he is close to losing. I detach myself and find my way back. Find his hand in the crowd. It shouldn’t be this easy, I think. The easiness of it makes it complicated, paradoxically. When we get home, back in my bed, he tells me he was waiting all night to get me here. We tease each other going to the edge and then stepping back, again and again, until we are both glazed-eyed and aching.
In the dark he tells me his fears. I tell him mine.
“Usually, by now, I would be running away.”
I nod into the dark, I’m a flighty one, myself.
“Don’t run,” I tell him quietly. “Stay.”
“This is where I want to be.”
His forehead finds mine. We lean against each other. I stroke the back of his neck, his naked back. I want to breathe him in, all of him, have him beating inside me like a moth trapped behind glass. I want to preserve this moment in the sap of a tree. I want to turn these quiet kisses into fossils. I want someone to uncover them carefully with kindly placed tools.
I want to be remembered.
On Friday we wake up slowly, languidly. Falling back into sleep I dream I’m following a technicoloured fawn through the woods. Always nearly catching it, wondering what the fur feels like under my palm. Its legs leave perfectly placed holes in the snow, like water dripping from the branch of a tree. My eyes open and I curl back into him, his arms pull me close, the hair on his chest tickles the back of my neck, his legs fit into mine, and I think that I know. This, it feels like this.