departure/arrival

I spent the last few hours before I left LA with A. I stress-ate my way through buttered bread, onion soup, and meatball sliders at Bottega Louie, so I had plenty of room for the chocolate/raspberry tart he surprised me with for desert. When our waiter brought the small pink box to the table, A. smacked my hand away before I could open it. "Not yet," he said. "You can't have it until you come back home." I asked if it was a puppy or a pony, or what I'd really always wanted - a puppy/pony hybrid. "Excuse me," he said to the server. "Is there a pony in there? The lady would like a pony."

He hung out while I packed, and put some things on my iPod for me: a chapter of an audio book he wanted me to hear, and a few variations of a cheesy 80s love song we'd been singing all week. He played them one by one while I was getting ready, saying each time, "This is it, baby. This is the song." Each time I'd laugh and say, "No! This is not it!" and beg him to play the right one - the original version. He refused every time, pretending not to know what I meant.

When we got in his car to go to the airport, he had the correct version of the song all cued up and ready to go. It started playing as we drove out of the parking garage. It was meant to make me laugh, which it did after a few moments, but at first I lost it a little bit. He'd even cut the song down to the refrain we'd been tossing back and forth; he had that bit in the playlist as a separate track, as well. At the airport, he parked and walked me in, taking over the check-in process for me at the digital kiosk when I froze up. When we reached security, he pulled me aside, tapping at his phone as if responding to a text. "Hang on, one sec, just gotta answer this..." He held the phone up and pulled me to him. The song we'd been listening to in the car - the inside joke of the week - began to play, tinny but loud enough to be heard by nearby travelers and the TSA agent, who smiled at us. "It's your going away song," he said. "Dance with me."

Waiting at the gate a bit later, I texted him. Don't you dare answer this because you're driving, but I want you to know that you astound me with your ability to make every moment I spend with you exciting, fun, romantic, or all of the above and more. He answered, You make me want to be a better person. I love who I am with you. I love how we are. I texted once more before takeoff. You picked a great seat for me, I said. It's extra roomy and I'm pretty sure my blanket is cashmere.

Baby, the last time that I smiled as much as I do with you was when I discovered the upside to puberty. "You mean there's a plus here? That thing does something fun?"

During the flight, I made him a reference tool, so there'd be no question while I was away:



His is personalized with both of our names (and a different color), so I thought I'd throw this neutral version up for anyone who wants to pin it or send it to her boyfriend (it's perfectly sized for iPhone screens).

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There's not much to say yet, about my father. We're on hold, waiting to talk to his doctor and hopefully at least one specialist early next week. I've done everything I can to get him organized, comfortable, and ready for whatever comes next. I feel helpless in the face of the bigger picture, but the small things I can do - clean out his refrigerator, help compile questions for the doctors, pick up prescriptions, mail his taxes, run errants - at least make me feel useful.

Until we know exactly what he's facing, we can't make any plans. So the rest of this weekend is just wheel-spinning and distraction. There's more to say, I know, about what this is like, but I'm blocked on it. Weirdly detached, and floating above all of it. Not sure where to draw the boundary, as far as sharing. Is this even my story to share?

He's in a pretty good state of mind, I'd say, considering. He's in pain, depressed, scared, and overwhelmed. Who wouldn't be? And he's ready for me to take charge, consumed as he is with trying to navigate his way to a place of physical and emotional comfort (acceptance?). But he hasn't been particularly emotional. Not in front of me, anyway.

My own worst moment was when I was filling his prescriptions, and the pharmacist explained the difference between his twice-daily pain med and the one for when it's "really, really intolerably bad." That was a big acid splash of reality in my face. Here we go, I thought. That's what's ahead.

Also: I had a really weird reaction to the Easter clearance "section" at the local grocery store. It was just some shopping carts filled with stuffed animals and candy, but it depressed the shit out of me for some reason. Where Easter Goes to Die. A three am Netflix viewing of Melancholia didn't help. Brutal. Watching it was like being beaten with a silk pillowcase filled with Fabergé eggs. Fabergé eggs in a Xanax omelet.

It's hard to make this more interesting than it is. Pain. Fear. Sadness. Cancer. Just a bunch of ugly words that don't deserve a pretty treatment, anyway.