"We've got this black-hole policy. Things that get said at the compound stay there."
"Funny," I said, "because we've got something just like that here."
With that said, Chris visited, but so much of what we talked about falls so squarely into the realm of "no one else's business" that I hardly know what can be said about the time he spent here except to acknowledge that it happened.
I'm reminded of the old jokes about soldiers writing home during World War II; they would write long, loving, detailed letters about their situation, their thoughts, and their location. Once the censors were through marking out the parts of the letters that shouldn't have been read by civilian eyes, those lovingly-detailed letters consisted of "Give my love to the family," followed by lines and lines of censoring black, broken only by the occasional 'the' or 'and.'
We have no healing powers here, no magic, no restorative cure-for-all-geeks. If we did, we'd be inundated with visitation requests by every friend we've ever had. What we have here is a simpler sort of caring, but it seems to work some of the time.
* * * * *
When we tiptoed off to sleep at seven a.m., I fully expected to sleep until the afternoon. I was surprised when I snapped awake around ten a.m. and remained awake. By eleven, Jeff was growing visibly antsy; he wanted lunch, but wanted to try to wait until Chris was awake.
I spent the morning ferrying myself between living room and computer room. Each time I walked by the guest bedroom, I cast a glance through the doorway to check on Chris, who was undoubtedly exhausted from the traveling and extraordinarily late talking. Every time I looked, he was slumped deeper and deeper into the pillow, showing no signs of waking.
So much for his saying that he didn't sleep well when he was away from home.
Finally, Jeff could wait no longer for lunch. I went to a year's worth of chat logs and pulled out a couple of foods Chris had mentioned enjoying in the past, and made a list of items for Jeff to purchase. Jeff went to the store, I continued to write emails, and eventually Jeff and I had our lunches.
Still, from the guest bedroom, silence.
Several hours later we heard doors shifting open and closed. Jeff looked at me and said with a nod, "Guess Chris is up now." When he emerged from the back of the house, awake and showered, I told him that his particular flavor of Hot Pockets and what we thought might be a favored flavor of ice cream were both in the freezer.
"You didn't have to do that."
"Well, of course we didn't, but we were hungry and wanted lunch, and we didn't know what else to get for you."
* * * * *
You learn a lot about someone after spending eight hours in a car with them. We learned that neither of us can stand the screech of a malfunctioning windshield wiper blade. A pity that he had to listen to it for four hours (I, over eight, by the time I returned home again). By the time he got to the airport, we were fighting fate and a gullywasher of a rainstorm, trying our best to see through sheets of rain while running the windshield wipers as little as humanly possible.
You end up talking about a lot of things during such a storm, but when the time comes to talk to your friends about what was said, much of what comes out of your mouth is nothing but innocuous, blank black lines interspersed with an occasional 'the' or 'and.'
Such is friendship.
Such is life.