My friend Howard (over from Canada) came to visit Glenn and I yesterday, a flying visit ahead of our trip up to see him and his family in Norwich at the weekend. It's hard to describe how good it feels to catch up with Howard, although all of our lives are, in one way or another, a bit crazy intense at the moment.
Howard, Glenn and I were joined at the hip for a few years when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and we have all known each other for almost 12 years. For the last heavens-to-Betsy-knows-how-many years, Howard has been living in Canada and we don't get to see as much of one another as I know we would all like. Combine this fact - which means that we all miss each other a lot - with the fact that when we all get the opportunity to hang out it is like being 19 all over again, then I might be close to the reason why I was so sorry to say goodbye to Howard this morning - even though I know I'll see him in 4 days time!
Yesterday, suffice to say, was beyond description. I often describe myself as an emotionally open person, but from experience, I also know that I can be very good at burying things that upset me when I need to. With this in mind, I had no idea of how much I miss Howard until I spent yesterday with him and Glenn. I think I had forgotten what an amazing person Howard is, I had forgotten than I don't know anyone else who is even remotely like him, and I had forgotten that being around him and around Glenn gives me a sense of homecoming the likes of which I can only compare with my family.
The Chief made mention in the pub the other night of the 'family we choose' and I like this idea immensely. Howard and Glenn are two of the family I have chosen, and I am forbidding Glenn to go anywhere, because not having access to both of them might be more than I can bear. Maybe it's because I don't have a lot of men amongst the people I count as close friends, but I find being with the two of them an utterly different experience to being around my female friends.
For example, if any of my female friends suggested that we spend an hour or so running about on the Common playing frisbee, I can guarantee that my answer would be short, to the point, and highly obscene. But if Howard and Glenn want to, then I'm there (I swear I'm just the amusement value in this - I can barely catch the thing and I refuse to humiliate myself further by describing what happens when I try to throw it. I can't believe throwing a round thing can be so hard, and I'm deeply humilated by how serious I am when I say that).
Howard and Glenn are both guitarists, too and this means that I get the enviable (yes, I mean it) role of sitting back, drinking beer and listening to them play. I will not lose for quite some time, if ever, the image of Howard sitting in front of my window, last night, playing guitar. An Oasis song was playing softly on the stereo and he was playing along with it. Listening to him play brought back that feeling of sitting in his rented room when he was at Uni, some dozen years ago; feeling so safe with these two men, so utterly myself. All these fears that belong to my daily life right now, these moments of anxieties appeared, while he played, exactly as small as they are, exactly as important as I make them. I felt more myself than I remember in a long time. When Howard left this morning, I just cried and cried.
That's ok, too, at least I know I have something precious. When Howard finished playing last night, he told Glenn and I about a guitar that Paul McCartney played in the Beatles. He had the original guitar stripped down to the bare wood and covered in a layer of varnish, and now you can buy them like this, Howard told us, and it'll set you back £2,000.
Howard played a strong, deep chord that echoed across the silence for a moment.
"I think that's worth an E minor," he smiled.
Today's Beautiful Things
1. Sacred Harp singers - I'm Going Home
2. Tonight, watching Elizabethtown, on the recommendation of the chief
3. The Spinnaker lit in yellow and looking like cross between a cage and a banana
Today's Strangest Sentence
"You know one of things that scares me most?" asks G, "The hulls of boats."