Ben and I mop the floor, using the bathtub for a bucket. We fill it a few inches high, stirring in the Murphy Oil Soap. I play Billy Joel on the portable speaker and my heart aches, a deep nostalgic ache. The nostalgia is for my childhood, Billy Joel playing over my dad’s big old speakers, Mom shooing us out of the piney-clean kitchen, and also a sort of nostalgia in advance for this life we have right now - these are the days to hold onto, ‘cause we won’t although we’ll want to - as I imagine myself in the next phase of my life, whatever that will be, trying to remember this time.
I don’t want to forget this, Ben and me, slow dancing, teasing, the way I run my hands over his freshly trimmed beard and tell him it’s the perfect length, don’t grow another centimeter, stay like this, like this. I nap on top of the duvet, comforted knowing he’s nearby in the living room, cheering aloud over a soccer game, while here in the bedroom, soft piano music plinks out a lullaby like rain on a lake.
Next weekend we are going on a short hiking and camping trip with my dad. I already have the packing list. I can’t wait to show him how the woods unfurls itself for you as you climb deep into its belly, how at the end of a long day it swaddles you in quiet. We will make a fire, the 3 of us, and cook hotdogs and crack jokes. I have never invited another boy into my life like this. Growing up, hiking trips were almost a sacred thing between my dad and me. But there was no part of me that hesitated in inviting Ben. No need for pause at all.
I love him. I want to show him everything that means something to me.