"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open."
Dorothy Allen

Saturday, November 30, 2013

For Bill

I said good bye today.

If you have read my blog at all in the past, you have heard about my good friends Barb and Bill.  I adore them, they are 2 of my best friends on the planet. I have been friends with them for years and years and years.  I know them well, and they know me. 

Those motherfuckers are leaving me.  Bill got a job in Ottawa. He starts on Monday.  He leaves tomorrow.  Barb is sticking around a bit longer, but she's on that ticking clock as well. 

I have known for months that this was a possibility and known for sure for a while.  I knew this was coming.  I have dreaded it and avoided it, and looked the other way.  I smiled and laughed and talked about how this was Future Anita's problem.

I seriously want to kick Past Anita right in the ass for this. 

I met Bill for the first time at my stag and doe.  He came with mutual friends (we actually have quite a few, so it is kind of amazing that we had never met before.)  He began dating Barb shortly afterwards and was her date at our wedding. 

It didn't take long (if you have met Bill, you understand this) for us to connect and begin to hang out.  We both love horror movies, and tattoos.  And dogs and beer and wings.  We would see a splatter and gore fest together, and finish the night with some drafts.  Slowly but surely, he and I cemented a friendship.  I am friends with Barb, and I can honestly say that I am friends with Bill.  It's not a friendship by association, or a kind of couples being friends with couples thing.  I am legitimately and honestly friends with both of them.  I love them dearly.  They are my family. 

I have been saying good bye to them since August, basically.  I have called and texted them pretty much daily for months.  We have seen each other at least once or twice a week.  They come here, we go there, we go out.  Sometimes it's just us, sometimes there are others.  It doesn't matter.  We have been together.  We have had amazing fun. I knew it was ending and I was greedy for more.

I don't know what to write here.  I thought I could do this.  I thought these words would flow out of me, like they often do.  But I am stuck.  I don't know what to say.

I know he is only moving 5 hours away.  It's not a big deal.  In the grand scheme of things, this is not bad. They aren't sick.  They aren't dying. They aren't moving to the other side of the planet.  But the fact is, they are 5 minutes from my house right now.  They are a phone call or a text message away.  And as of tomorrow, that changes. 

So, what do I know?  I know that I haven't been this sad in a long time.  I know I have kept my shit together as best I can.  I was determined not to cry- in front of anyone.  And with a minor exception yesterday (he brought me a tea while I was working and caught me off guard), I have been good.  I have been able to smile and make jokes and inappropriate comments.  Even last night, at his going away party, I kept my shit together.  We all got together and got him an amazing bottle of whiskey.  We took one last selfie (photo bombed by his lovely wife :).  We hugged good bye.  And through all that, I walked a razor's edge of control.  I maintained.  I made it through.  I bit my lip bloody, but it was all good. 

What do I know?  I lost it tonight.  We went for dinner, Geoff, the kids, me and Bill.  We went for Chinese.  It was a typical dinner for us- Sawyer is crazy and lovely and demanding and in turns incredibly rude and remarkably polite.   Sebastian is amused and at the turn of a dime, monumentally bored and wants to go home.  Geoff is talking and filling in the quiet spots, to keep us entertained.  And Bill is quiet.  Very quiet.  I see glimpses of what is happening beneath the surface.  But I am still on the other side of that razor's edge, so silly me, I think things will be ok.

We leave and head to the parking lot.  Sawyer hugs him good bye.  I notice that he squeezes her a little extra tight.  He makes his way to Sebastian's side of the van.  Bastian says bye, and I hear Bill's voice break when he says bye back.

I walk around, mindful of the ice, and so very afraid to look up.  Bill and Geoff are hugging,  and it's not men thumping each other on the back.  It's brothers, hanging on, and saying good bye.  Bill turns and looks at me.  I am crying now.  I was afraid to start. Once I start, I don't know if I can stop.  I grab him hard around the neck.  I tell him that I miss him already.  He doesn't reply, but I can feel him shake. 

When I let him go, he is done in.  I try and smile and I can't.  It won't come.  When Bill hangs his head, and the reality of what is happening comes in, I grab him again, and pull his head down to me.  Geoff wraps us both up, and we stay that way a long time.  Finally, it's time to go.  I make him promise to text me all day tomorrow.  It's not easier, but at least it's something.

I get in the driver's seat.  I put the key in the ignition and I sit on my hands to warm them up.  I breathe deep and close my eyes.  I knew this would happen.  Once I start, I can't stop it now.  I have kept this at bay for 4 months.  It's here.  It's real.  

Sawyer is worried.  She saw Bill cry and doesn't really understand why.  I can't answer, so Geoff does his best to explain.  Geoff tries to hold my hand, and I tell him to give me a minute.  The tears keep leaking from under my lids, and I can't slow them down.  When I start to cry, really cry,  Geoff comes around, and pulls me out.  He walks me to the passenger side and I sit.  Sawyer is crying now too.  I ask her to hold my hand, because that will make me happier, and then we can both stop crying.  It works.  For her. 

It's hours later now, and it's still hard.  Is this melodramatic?  I'm sorry if it seems that way.  I don't mean it to be. It's been a hard day.  I'm tired.  I'm done in.  I miss him already.

So, Bill...this blog is for you.  I don't have much to give as a gift.  Sometimes I can write, and so I am doing this for you.

You are one of the best people I know.  You are kind and ignorant and crude and hilarious.  You have always been able to make me laugh.  You don't always say the right thing, but somehow, whatever it is that you do say is usually perfect. 

You are caring- you pretend to be hard and cold and indifferent but inside you care about kids and animals and your friends and your family.  Jesus man, you still tell your mom that you love her when you talk to her on the phone. 

You know something about pretty much everything.  You can talk to pretty much anyone on the planet and be friend with them at the end of the hour.  No one that meets you ever forgets you (evidenced by the fact that we can't go anywhere without meeting someone you know.)

You are going to do amazing in Ottawa.  You have earned this, by being smart and devious and just fucking being yourself.  We are all proud of you, things will only get better. 

I have the memories that we have built over 15 years of friendship.  I can remember a thousand beers, dozens of movies, and a million inappropriate jokes. 

I honestly don't know how we are going to do this.  But you are going to keep being my best friend.  We are going to keep being ridiculous together.   I can't wait to see what's coming.  I just know that I love you.

Drive safe my friend.  Come back to us when you can.  We will be waiting.

Love, Anita.

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