Here he was, on our porch. I flashed on the email I’d sent him, that big confession of feelings.
He looked the way I felt: unsure and exposed.
“Let’s sit on the porch for a minute,” I said, “before you come in and say ‘hi’ to everybody.”
We sat together, and I wasn’t sure where to start. It felt like so much had happened since that night we took our magic selfie that it seemed like we’d drawn an “Advance to Go” card and zipped right back around to square one.
I decided to bring it out into the open, right from the start, so it wouldn’t be there getting in between us the whole time.
“Did you get my email?” I asked.
He smiled for the first time.
“I got two emails from you,” he said. “One helped me feel better after my dad passed, and it let me know that I’d be welcome here any time.”
“And the other one is the real reason I’m here,” he continued.
I felt such a huge wave of relief.
“I wasn’t sure if I should send it,” I confessed. “It’s just that I sort of felt like a prisoner with those feelings going around and around begging for expression, and I just hoped that it would be ok.”
He actually applauded. “It was more than ok!” he said. “What the superlative of ok? Okiest! It was okiest!”
“I hope it’s ok that I came,” he said.
“It’s okiest,” I replied.
“I wanted to come as soon as I got your second email. Before that, actually, but the second email put it all into perspective for me. The thing was, I’d made a commitment to the Desert Leaders program, and I didn’t want to bail. But I kept thinking back to here, back to the time I spent here at Plum Day.”
I tried to still my breathing while he talked. I was just starting to feel so happy it was hard to breathe.
“The whole purpose of Desert Leaders, for me,” he said, “was finding out what’s important to me and what I want to do. I kept thinking back to the time I spent here with you guys, with you, really, and how I felt. How I felt like I was me, only more so. Me only bigger. It was like I was coming out to myself in terms of who I was, who I am.”
We sat quietly for a moment while he put his thoughts and feelings into words.
“So, I felt that I was really myself when I was here,” he said, “and I had plenty of time and space to remember that while I was at Desert Leaders. Then, when the program went on break, we had a choice. We could stay and hang out there, or we could move on. I knew what I wanted to do–not only in my head or only in my heart, but in all of me.”
We sat in stillness again, breathing together.
“I got to see my sister before I came,” he said. “The whole family, actually. I went to Ede’s wedding. I got to help out with the catering. Grilled cheese! I met my brother-in-law. He’s such a cool guy. Really worthy of my sister, if I can believe I’m actually saying that anybody could be! But he is! And I saw my mom and my sister Easter and my nephews and niece and my other goofy brother-in-law, the Bro! And then, as soon as the wedding was over, I came here. And now I’m here. I came as fast as I could, like my heart was propelled by rocket fuel.”
I was suddenly so tired of talking–I’d been up all night talking, and then all this talking, and I was overfull from talk. I needed to move.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” I said. “I’m going out back for a swim. Make yourself at home, because you are home, if you want to be.”
Elder followed me out back. While I swam laps, he sat at the bar. With each stroke, I moved to the rhythm of “He’s here. He came. He’s here. He came.”