It’s been months since my last post. No point in rehashing months, so I’ll start with the today and now.
There’s no reason why today should feel more lonely than any other day, why the warm Chinook wind blowing down the street outside my window should make me feel more hollow than I’ve ever felt in my life. It seems impossible that not too long ago I enjoyed being home alone. Whenever my mom came home she’d always find something she needed me to be doing, but when she was gone I could play video games, or just relax and enjoy the sound of the wind.
But right now the sound of the wind is only making me feel empty inside. It’s Jane’s fault, her and her stupid large family, with aunts and uncles and grandparents and an army of kids. Even Xena’s little rat-dog presence at my feet doesn’t put a dent in my loneliness. I can’t stand it anymore.
“Xena.” I call, grabbing the leash hanging on the coat hook. Xena’s ears perk up but she doesn’t move from her position on the floor. Lazy dog.
“Xena!” I call again, gathering up my cell phone and earphones. Xena sets her tiny head down between her front paws. I walked her today already, but aren’t dogs supposed to LOVE going for walks? I grab my coat and shove my feet into my runners.
“Stay here then.” I mumble, opening the front door. Xena trots over and sits down beside me, staring up at me with her big ugly Chiuaua eyes. Apparently the threat of being left home alone is a greater evil for her than taking another walk. To her credit Xena has some kind of hip problem that acts up when the weather is bad, when it rains or snows or the wind blows, or there’s a full moon, I don’t know, I’m not old enough to understand hip problems. I attach Xena’s leash to her collar but pick her up in my arms anyway, adjusting her under one arm like a spoiled diva in a high school teen movie for rich L.A. girls. I press play on my phone and slip it into my pocket. Tonight Xena is walking me.
I step out into the wind and Xena shivers. It isn’t cold, Xena is just a drama queen. My mind keeps going back to the night Jane’s family was having that big family reunion and we played “Village” and all the kids thought I was the greatest thing that ever happened to them. They’re all gone now, not dead gone, like in a tragic house fire or something, but just gone home to their busy, lively homes with shouting and laughing and whatever happens in homes that aren’t lonely.
I look into the windows of the houses on my street. It’s still too early for anyone to be asleep for the night, yet most of the lights are off. I imagine they’re not home because they’re off with friends to see a movie, attend a girly sleep over or a fun video game night. What do guys do on a ‘guy’s night out’ anyway?
I shuffle through the songs on my phone but none of them seem appropriate for my lonely mood so I just stop the music and pull out my earphones letting the wind sing the perfect song of melancholy.
I hadn’t planned to go to Jane’s house and probably wouldn’t have even noticed I was passing by if Hasselhoff Huskey hadn’t barked, scaring Xena stiff in my arms.
I look up at Jane’s house which is dark like the rest of the street, except for a light farther in, like someone has left a bathroom light on. I stop, to Xena’s dismay, and stand in front of Jane’s house, letting Hasselhoff Huskey’s deep barks cut through the sad sounds of the wind in the trees.
Suddenly the front door swings open, startling an swear out of my mouth, which fortunately gets snatched away on the rush of an oncoming wind.
Jane looks different tonight. Her hair messy and eyes watery. No one else comes to the door as I would expect, her dad coming to yell at me for just standing there and provoking the dog, her mom inviting me in for cookies with her thick accent, or Jane’s little sister exclaiming, “You came to play Barbies!” They don’t come, it’s just Jane, standing in bare feet on the front step, in jeans and a goodie.
She doesn’t ask me why I’m just standing here or why I came, she just breathes. I recognize that breathing, it’s the kind you do after a good cry. Hasselhoff Husky has stopped barking and Xena has stopped shaking. The wind has taken a moment’s pause and all that is left is Jane’s breathing and my desperation for human contact.
“Can I come in?” I ask. Jane doesn’t say anything but simply steps aside. I climb up the stairs, Xena in hand, my heart pounding wildly. If she realizes how badly I need her right now I’ll lose her forever. She’ll stop talking to me, shut her blinds and unleash HasselHoff to bite Xena when we walk by. That’s how it always is with the opposite sex. You can’t let them know how much you need them, it only scares them away.
I stand awkwardly at the door a moment, then go inside and set Xena down. She starts shaking again, her legs getting knock kneed as she takes in the unfamiliar surroundings and smells. She looks up at me with pleading eyes.
“Go on.” I say, shoving her in further with my foot so Jane and I can have room to go in. I hear the door close behind me and turn to face Jane. Suddenly her arms are around me and she is crying. I’m too stunned to move. I should hug her back, but I’m frozen in place.
Jane lets go.
“Sorry,” she says, looking as uncomfortable as I usually feel in these types of circumstances. But for once I’m not the one feeling out of place and awkward. I smile to reassure her, then pull her back into a hug.