blake

I spent most of yesterday afternoon curled up in bed, trying to keep (find?) perspective and rehearsing cheery-sounding greetings/encouragements in my head, for when I see my father tomorrow morning. At some point, A. knocked softly on my door, but I had nothing, nothing, nothing, so I didn't move from where I lay. When I didn't answer, he duct-taped some flowers to my door, and texted. I stole some flowers from downstairs but you're out. Just to be clear, I fully agree that I was an underachiever in just grabbing one stem. In the future, I'll steal for you in bulk.

I told him to come back, and he crawled into bed with me and lay on his side, watching me talk. "I have some good news," he said. "I have business in Florida, in about a week and a half. I'll get to come see you." His family has a home in southern Florida (about three hours from where my dad lives), and he's done some networking with galleries down there, so at first I believed this. Of course, it was a lie, and he admitted it. "I can't come out with you tomorrow, that'd be overkill and you have to get your bearings. But I can come out in about a week and a half. We'll go to Disneyworld." he said. "You shouldn't be alone out there. You don't need to be." I asked if we could go to the aquarium, where there was a really cool jellyfish tank with ultraviolet lights. "Whatever you want," he said, and touched my cheek.

I warned him that my father's house is...eclectically decorated. That it has multicolor walls. Orange. Sherbet green. That they're hung with a random assortment of tapestries, cheap tribal masks, and maps. That any cabinet not crammed with books is filled with horrifying tchotchkes. "The place is sort of insane," I explained. "In fact, I haven't been there since he got that cat last year. I'm worried for the cat's sanity." A. said it sounded fabulous and he was looking forward to meeting my father. We talked about not knowing how long I'd be gone. When I started to get anxious, he told me to relax. "We'll figure it out. You don't know anything yet. What's important is that we love each other and we want to be together." For the dozenth time, he made promise not to move to Florida permanently. And he reminded me that there was no reason for me to stop writing while I was gone, or to stop looking for work.

Around nine, we walked to the grocery store for dinner supplies. Before I could stop him, he marched straight to the seafood counter and asked the butcher (fishmonger?) for a live lobster. My protestations were, predictably enough, ignored. "Can you take off the bands now, too?" he said to the guy. "We like to live dangerously." The counter guy pulled a fat, maroon-colored lobster from the tank and held it up for our inspection. When it started to thrash its claws about, he announced it was a good choice. "They're supposed to be lively," he explained. "That's what Martha says."

So we named her Blake.

We carried Blake home and I popped into the bathroom while A. unloaded the groceries. When I came out, he asked me to check on her. "Is she still in the bag? I put her in the bottom right drawer of the refrigerator." When I opened the fridge to look, the drawer was empty. I peered around for minute, frowning, before I saw him grinning at me.

Blake spent her last minutes of life in A.'s kitchen sink (having first suffered the indignity of being sniffed and rebuffed by Sydney), after which I was given a chance to a) leave or b) at least avert my gaze for The Killing. I chose to watch, fascinated, as he butchered the beast up. We stuck her in the oven along with some asparagus that we dressed in soy sauce, and A. showed me how to clarify butter. He kneeled down and looked at our dinner. "Is it supposed to still be moving?" he asked. I sat on the floor, indian-style, to watch the lobster steam and twitch. Fifteen minutes later, we feasted straight from the trays, using our fingers to tear meat from shell, and feeding one another drippy, buttery bites of animal and vegetable.

Afterwards, he made me wait on my favorite lounge chair while he sprinted across the street to Famima for a surprise. When he came back, he unloaded a bag with four tiny containers of Haagen Dazs (chocolate and vanilla), milk, and various kinds of cookies, candy, and my favorite cereal. He pulled out Hershey's syrup, peanut butter, and a banana from his pantry, and a Magic Bullet from his cabinet. I stared at the bounty, terrified, and he lifted me by my waist onto his kitchen island, to watch. "Shakes," he explained. "Endless varieties. Anything you want." "You're making me a shake sampler?" I asked. "A shake flight," he corrected.

Under my direction, he made two shakes before we had to let Sydney out for a pee. I borrowed a huge hooded sweatshirt and a pair of his Converse, and shuffled down the hall with him and his dog, sucking my cookies-and-cream shake through a bendy straw. When we got downstairs and he saw that it was raining, he ordered me to wait inside. "If she opens that door," he said to our doorman, "tackle her."

I let him get two steps out in the pouring rain before carefully stepping out after him. The sidewalk was slick and I had to slide my feet along so as not to slip in his oversized shoes. When I caught up with him, unsuccessfully trying to convince his dog to step into a puddle-filled tree well, he shook his head at me.

Back upstairs, he showed me something he'd spent the day working on: an idea he had for a new line of work he'd been experimenting with - one that would be both labor and technically intensive, but really interesting, and hugely marketable. I told him how much he impresses me, and he dropped his eyes and stepped away, smiling, in the way he always does when my praise pleases but embarrasses him.

We debated several movie choices before I realized I really wasn't up for anything, that I wanted to be done thinking, and to just sleep. I thanked him for being a spectacular boyfriend, for spending the day taking care of me, doing things to distract me. I pointed out that over the past days he'd spent several hours helping me in some way: cooking for me, doing work on my apartment (a panel/rod of my curtains came out of he wall), doing thoughtful, fun things to make me happy.

"I'd do anything to make you smile," he said.

I didn't sleep well, but that had nothing to do with him. Or Blake.