|We meet once a year now, because life, and reasons, and my weight; but he comes about a month or two after my birthday with the annual music collection he'd made me - it's the 13th year, now - and we listen to it, and revel in how awesome it was to grow up and get rid of all the teenage angst, and I say, as ever, that those collections are a portrait of his personality each year anew; and I love seeing (hearing) them grow less troubled, more touching, more with a tongue in cheek when it comes to drama, and always compelling.
And always him; with the peach-and-cream shade of the skin on his hands, long fingers, long jaw, subtle changes from year to year; his skin grows thinner, I notice - papery, almost, and the subtle shades of peach and pink are more noticeable. More hair on arms, less weight on everywhere, better dressed, always neat. I remember the prickly person he was, and revel at the tenderer father he is, and at his love for his wife and wonder at his kids. And every year in the last songs our hands touch and we smile, and I always get tearful; some because the music is lovely, but mostly because he is. Today I pulled him up to dance on the last minute, then hugged him and said thank you, and I know he knows how touched I am by this annual tradition, but still I wish I could convey it more.
One day I'll find the musician who will compose, sing and record a poem I'll right as a thank you for this. I've known the name since year #3: Love, Loss, Life, Longing - it was written with a permanent marker on my mirror for years, in the former apartment. Until then, I can only hope he understands.
For the first time since I remember I gave him a song back and was actually present to see his reaction, which was, perhaps, the best part. It was Sting's The Last Ship, of course, my favourite song (and album) this year; and he listened to it all, eyes closed and a smile slowly growing wider on his face, and seeing him like this was... a rare delight, better than so many things I thought the peak of wonder. This surpassed them all, and the image of that smile, I hope I'll remember it as well as the music; would that I could record it in a similar way.
And he's right; it's been 13 years of those collections going with me through good and bad, Israel and Poland, Warcraft and Lotro, painting and Blender; I am Never Left Alone.
And I'm so touched and grateful.