Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feel Like Home

One autumn, some friends of mine went on vacation and eloped. They came home, rented out a hall downtown, and threw a party for everyone they would have invited to a wedding.

After several glasses of wine, a few of us noticed that no one had made any speeches. After one more glass I decided, “Aww hell, I’d might as well say something.”

Delia clutched at my arm. Delia, who had seen me make an ass of myself more times than I cared to admit (usually under the influence of whiskey or wine). Delia, with whom I’d been enamored since the day I met her. Delia, whom I had dated for a period of weeks and whom I had thought might be “the one” before she ended things. Delia, who looked stunning in her crimson cocktail dress.

“Don’t,” Delia said. Don’t make a fool of yourself. Don’t disrupt the proceedings. Don’t say another word. I can only assume she meant all of those don’ts, tightly packaged in a single word (albeit a contraction).

I paid her no mind.

I got the microphone from the DJ and I raised my glass. The would-be maid of honor clapped for me and the hall fell silent. I started talking about what a lovely evening it was and how the bride and groom were such good friends to me.

I didn’t know what I was saying.

And I looked to Delia. Wide-eyed and waiting for me to fail, calculating whether this would be one of the times she laughed along with me, told me off, or didn’t speak to me for a period of days. We had cycled through each option time and again.

And in that moment—that moment when, admittedly, I still thought she smelled sweeter than chocolate-dipped daisies—I didn’t know what she was to me. But I did know, with striking clarity, what she was not.

“There are certain people who feel like home,” I said.

The bride’s mother nodded. Beamed. Wiped a tear from her eye.

“My friends here—the two of them found a home in one another. And I couldn’t be happier for them.”

People clapped and cheered and whistled. The bride and groom kissed. I walked off stage.

We were supposed to stay together that night--me, Delia, a couple other friends--in an extravagant hotel room one of them booked down the road, certain we’d all be too drunk to drive. I started the night with intentions of sharing a bed with Delia. Maybe spooning her as she dozed off. In the romantic afterglow of the evening, her head heavy with wine, she might even welcome it.

But I walked off stage and kept walking. Got to the street, pulled out my cell phone and called a cab. By the time anyone realized I was gone, I had already made it halfway home.

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