I take a breath. The unseasonably warm October air is refreshing, even this late into the evening. The loud music and crowd of people in the hall behind me and slight fogginess of the alcohol have driven me outside. Ian and a couple other people are sitting at one of the tables on the patio, but there is a bench at the edge of the lawn. I head for the secluded option seeking quiet. A little company would be nice, though.
“Can I sit here?”
I look over my shoulder. Ian is standing behind me. I smile.
“Yeah, of course. I was hoping you would come over.”
“You were?” He sits down beside me on the bench.
“Needed a bit of quiet?”
“Yeah. The music, the people, it was getting to me.”
“Are you alright?” he asks.
“Yeah, I am. I just needed a break from it all for a minute.”
“Kind of your last big hurrah before taking off to New Zealand, huh?”
“I wasn’t going to miss Jonny’s wedding. I had to stick around for it. I’m glad I did.”
“Well, we’re going to miss you around the office. I know I will.”
“Thanks, Ian. I’m going to miss you too.” A moment of silence passes. A comfortable moment, shared by friends without the need of filling. “There’s something I need to tell you before I go.”
“Yeah. You once said that you care too much. But I don’t think that’s true. I think you care a lot, and what you meant is that sometimes it manifested in unhealthy ways. Sometimes you work too hard when you don’t need to or you feel guilty. But sometimes it comes out in great ways. You care for people. You are kind and compassionate and empathetic. I see how you treat people, how hard you work. I respect you for those things. I look up to you for those things. I see how you act and think, ‘I should act like that.’ You are one of the best people I know. Knowing you makes me want to be a better person. Has made me a better person. And I’ll always remember that.”
But I don’t say those things. They are heavy words, their meaning carrying weight. Too heavy. They lay on my tongue and press it into silence.
“Yeah, remind me to tell you later,” I say.
“I hope we’re friends for a long time.”
“We will be,” I say, ruffling his hair a bit.
They are heavy words… Too heavy
It is November, and warm weather has perpetuated far further into the fall season than it should. We sit in front of the water eating lunch. The last lunch we will share here, it is my last week before leaving the company. We speak of small things, content with each other’s presence. I consider again speaking these words, but still, the heft of the words clutches at my heart. It should not be so hard to speak the truth. But the words will not flow, thick and slow, glue sticking in my throat.
I resign myself to enjoying the simple lunch for what it is. The importance of the moment is not lost on me. I do not think it is lost on him either.