Friday, January 1, 2016

Breakfast in the Castro: For oh I don't know how long

Me: Happy New Year, Mibes!

Mibes: Happy New Year to you! So glad to see you again. Especially on this auspicious occasion.

Me: Good to see you, too. But I’m not sure I remember the definition of auspicious. Something about the potential to be great?

Mibes: Close. Promising is one of the synonyms, but it can be here-and-now favorable, encouraging.

Me: All that? All that based on a day like any other that just happens to fall on the first of the month on the first day of the calendar year?

Mibes: Sure, there’s no denying that, but there’s also the element of you. You. You’re here. That would make any breakfast auspicious regardless of the date.

Me: You’re kind. But also kind of full of it.

Mibes: As are you, but the point is that we are at the New Year, celebration at breakfast or not, and we are here. Or by some other means these words purporting to be ours are spoken.

Me: But Mibes, what if they’re not really spoken?

Mibes: If so my life is so much easier.

Me: Your life is complicated? I thought you had almost everything in order. Not that you’re perfect but that you had a good handle on your life in the here-and-now. Isn't that one of the reasons you're so relentlessly optimistic?

Mibes: Or could it be that complicated lives, yours and mine, are more livable because they’re somewhat orderly? 

Me: But maintaining the order adds to the complication.

Mibes: Yes, it can, but there's also this: You see me as optimistic because I am unfailingly happy to see you. But it's less about today or any other day and more about you. The you I know and love and think about.

Me: Thank you! (laughing, a bit embarrassed) I love you too. But really what do you think when I’m not around?

Mibes: The truth?

Me: Please.

Mibes: How much I just miss you. I miss you horribly.

Me: Aw. Hey buddy, I miss you, too.

Mibes: It’s OK. I know you don’t really. Not as much. You can go days without thinking about me. It’s OK.

Me: (silent sigh)

Mibes: But with me, I don’t get very far at all without thinking about you.

Me: I’m really not that much to think about.

Mibes: To me you are. I wonder how you’re doing. What you’re doing. What you’re thinking. How you’re feeling. And there’s just nothing like being with you to get a sense of all that.

Me: OK. So what is your sense of all that?

Mibes: That I’ve done way too much of the talking. That to know those things, yes, I can look into your eyes and see your facial expressions, listen to the tone of your voice, read your body language. But that it's also about your words, our conversion. The interaction. The whole picture. What's said and what's not. Senses and scent and silence. What I see or want to see in those eyes. What I hear or want to hear in your voice.

Me: Wow. Are you on something this morning? Or is it something from last night, still in your blood?

Mibes: Like I said, it's really good to see you, but I’m talking way too much. How are you really doing? How were your holidays? How was New Year’s Eve? Are you looking forward to going back to work? I want a full rundown. Details. Now. Speak.

Me: I’m a not dog.

Mibes: But you are a puppy sometimes.

Me: Oh stop.

Mibes: So really how are you?

Me: Reasonably OK. Pretty good, I suppose. I’ve got a bit of a cough, but that’s often the case this time of year. Holidays have been pretty good. Not perfect. It didn't expect that. It’s all about enjoying the mix. Finding the cashews. Ignoring the walnuts. Some wonderful times. Good memories made. Warmth, love, humor, food, treats, surprises. The contrasts. Snow outside. Hearth inside.

Mibes: I like walnuts.

Me: Great. I’ve got a whole stash of them for you. Hand sorted.

Mibes: So you’re good?

Me: Yeah. Somewhat.

Mibes: Good stuff. Nice response. Believable detail. Nice imagery. Now tell me the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Me: (I look down, losing eye contact.) Yes, Mr. Mason.

Mibes: Oh, that really dates you. Better take than one out of the transcript.

Me: No I'm leaving it in. I'm definitely leaving it in since you mentioned it.

Mibes: Now the to truth. Like it or not. Come on, you’ll feel better.

Me: I don’t know. If I even say the word c-o-u-g-h I’ll start again.

Mibes: That’s a start. What else?

Me: (coughing)

Mibes: OK, OK, I’ll temporarily postpone the cross examination. Here's something that will help.

Me: A hug, I suppose. (I'm now thinking of all the holiday hugs and shoulder claps, I've received. Some very nice moments. Mostly forgettable, but appreciated nonetheless. Especially when I've been reluctant because of the cough, not wanting to infect loved ones.)

Mibes: Yes, a hug. One of my hugs. Not your run of the mill, holiday hug. The quick minimal hugs you’ve been giving and getting. (We've been sitting at bar stools but now Mibes is standing up next to me.) 

Me: (coughing, I reluctantly stand up, facing him.) I don’t want to cough all over you.

Mibes: (pulls me in close, both arms around me, in a big bear hug)

Me: (still coughing)

Mibes: Just get it all out. (He starts this percussive cupping sort of thumping on my mid-back below the ribcage. He's now some blend of massage therapist, respiratory therapist and lifelong friend.)

Me: (coughing continues but quickly morphs into sobs)

Mibes: (he stops the percussive treatment but the hug continues and now he's chuckling a bit.) There you go. Coughing. Crying. Doesn’t matter to me.

Me: (My crying gives way to laughter. The burning in my chest is gone. There's no urge to cough. My lungs are clear. I've dropped from alpine skiing in thin, frigid air to sunshine on the beach at sea level.)

Mibes: (joins in louder laughter) I told you you’d feel better.

Me: (laughter) Yes you did and no I didn’t believe you.

Mibes: Believe.

Me: OK. I believe.

Mikes: And just in the nick of time. (waiter brings our plates to the bar and we sit back down)

Me: Just in the nick of time.

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