I take a taxi and meet him at the airport. He has gone back home to meet with a lawyer and see his family. It has been a difficult week. Conflicted about what he is going through, conflicted about my own life and being separated from my daughter, weighing what he has done to impact my own life. I have never done anything like this-- just run off. Until now, nothing has ever felt so necessary to the point of risking everything.
In the chaos of arrivals I see Bran among a sea of people. Like a compass facing North, I can always find him. Usually it is his height that makes him stand out in crowds, but Schiphol airport is filled with giants. It is his dark hair that I see now and his dark beard that has become overgrown. He reminds me of a shaggy dog that has been wandering the streets, like some great mastiff. This makes me want to take him home and give him a bath. A very long bath.
His coat is open and I go inside. Breath him in. Feel the roughness of his sweater against my face. Close my eyes.
He tells me some of it on the taxi ride through streets of Amsterdam. He tells me about his lawyer, what they discussed, he tells me about Clair. When he talks about his children now, he is thoughtful and is less disturbed about them,
“they're used to me traveling,” he explains to me as the taxi swerves through traffic.
My guilt makes me wonder if he feels regret now. Regret about what he has done. Regret about me. I turn my face to the window and start to pull my hand away from his, but he tightens his grip and says, “they liked you.”
I am not sure what to say.
We go back to the flat and he puts his things down, walks straight into the kitchen. He looks in cupboards, then looks at me,
“a mouse would starve here, Beth.”
“I know. I forgot. I haven't been hungry.”
He reaches to put on his coat,
“let's go,” he says.
We walk along the canal and I stare at the reflections in the water. We walk to the shops as I listen to his thoughts. They come through long, introspective pauses. The air is not too cold, there is a strong sun in the sky. Since we have been in Amsterdam we have found a rhythm between us. A kind of easy harmony. A pace. I never noticed how similar we are until now; how similar our habits are. Even creatively. And as we walk now, his week away from here is swept away. He reaches for my hand and our walking steps fall in pace.
We go to our favorite place for coffee, we walk up and down our favorite streets. We stop at the grocer's we like to go to and select things together. And as we shop, I see the lines of stress ease from around his eyes. He begins to smile. I show him food items and wait for his reaction. And when no one is looking I reach up to kiss his mouth. Smooth his mustache with my finger tips and brush my lips across. He kisses me back. “I'm a bit rough,” he whispers, “I should clean up when we get back.”
And for a moment we are locked and I forget that we are still in public, locked in his eyes. He is always calm, even when he is filled with tension or enraged, it is always a calm tension and a calm rage. His eyes burn with this kind of still intensity; fierce-quiet.
We stop by a few more places and take our time going home.
I had feared that I might lose myself in him. That has always been my biggest fear, always what kept me from ever getting close to anyone. That I would lose who I am; my art, my poetry, those things that define my sense of self that I have anchored myself to.
But I think he has made me more daring.... and I have never been daring enough. He inspires me.
When we get back, we put food away together. And in between we touch and kiss, we take long putting things away. He presses me against the side of the sink and kisses me on the mouth. His hands move over my clothes in search of openings; he is impatient. But then his phone rings and he has to take the call because it's important. This time it's business problems.
It is a long call and by the end of it I find him sitting on the living room couch looking tired and tense. He is scratching at his over grown beard with irritation. I go and get scissors. I climb into his lap. I want to serve him, like his geisha, his squaw. He lets me. And when I'm done, he looks beautiful again, his face no longer hidden behind a forest.
I want to absolve him, I want to heal him, I want to make love to him. I kiss his face and touch him as if he is my sculpture. Run my fingers over the coarse stubble of his jaw and feel it with my lips. I follow the course of stubble down his throat and kiss, feel it stimulate my mouth. It makes me wet.
I can tell he does not want to think or talk.
My muse, my Agamemnon.
I want to worship him. I move down to the floor.
He wears worn-out, old suede boots. I remove them; they feel like diver's foot gear. They are huge in my hands. I am on my knees and move myself in between his endless legs. He watches me with a slight smile that calmly invites. And slowly as I watch him, I run my hands up the inside of his legs. Go all the way up to where his limbs begin, and bend my head. He fills my lips through the fabric of his trousers. My fingers unfasten the barrier to what it is I want and I take him into my hands. He is beautiful. I touch his smoothness. Feel his warmth against my lips. I close my eyes. Feel his texture, taste his skin. I don't know if I want to please him or tease him.... so I do. Until I think he's had enough.