Two men slide into the office as the day is winding down. One approaches the desk slow, head down. The other skips up and slides to the right, pointing to his friend with both arms and a leg, “HE’D like to take a look around PLEASE!”
Our office is silent and my laugh bounces off the corners of the ceiling.
“You like that?” His giggle joins mine as we nod our heads at each other. Placing a hand to the corner of his mouth, he leans toward me and whispers loud, “He’s shy.” He draws out the end of the word to insure his friend hears him.
The other man blushes and toes the ground, tilts his head down more, and hides his eyes behind the bill of his baseball cap. I wait until he looks up again, lock eyes, and smile.
Some people are just easy to be around.
During the great breakdown of November 2008 I stood on my parent’s back porch and smoked with my dad. He reached in his wallet—exhaling a cloud of cigar smoke and warm breath into the chilled air—and pulled out a credit card. He pressed it into the palm of my hand and I curled my fingers around it, tilting my head to one side and raising my eyebrows. “What’s this for?”
“Take your time, but get home safe. Always make sure you can get home.”
I pointed the hood of my Toyota Corolla down Interstate 5, headed south. This was back when I could do the drive from southwest Washington to Tucson, Arizona with only a quick nap around Sacramento. In less than twenty-four hours I’d crossed fifteen-hundred miles. I stood on a doorstep, everything I owned in a black duffle bag at my feet, and knocked.
Bryan opened the door and pulled me inside quick. “RUBY!” He held out his hand in a fist, palm down. I mirrored his gesture, extending mine open and palm up. Pills. He picked a bottle of André brut champagne up off the coffee table and handed it to me. After I’d taken the X and pounded enough of bubbly he gave me a hug.
Colton stayed seated, but gave me a toothy grin, eyes crinkling, and kicked his head back in greeting. “Good to see you, kiddo.”
They didn’t beg me to fill them in on what was going on. Didn’t hammer me with questions about the unfaithful boyfriend I’d left with a half-empty house and a broken lease. Didn’t ask me what I planned to do now that I’d dropped out of college for the second time. Didn’t demand I tell them about all these doctor appointments and consultations with surgeons.
Instead they asked if I would be moving in. Told me how they could rearrange the apartment to accommodate all three of us once I had decided.
Some people are just easy to be with.
My co-worker gives the two men a tour of our space and I stay seated at the front desk. The mid-February sunset streams in through the big open windows. I catch myself squinting in the once-again silent office. There is always somewhere safe, but you never know where it will be.