Happiness Is

For three days the rain keeps hammering down with no sign of mercy. Birdsong and color are swallowed by the downpour, and the world becomes a Nick Cave song. Dead trees raise bare arms in supplication, but the sky is thick and callous like elephant skin, and the same color. My sneakers squeak against the slippery asphalt, leaving no trail, and following none either. It hasn't rained like this in a long time, and my mind wanders...

It wanders back to two winters ago. We're walking home from the T station. Our breath forms white clouds in the cold air. Your hand in my hand in my pocket, you say that they should make a glove for two, a glove so people could hold hands in November. Our shoulders bump as we try to fit under the tiny umbrella, which is mostly useless anyway, because the rain comes at us horizontally. Around us, neat Somerville houses flock together, duck their heads, and fluff up their feathers against the coming onslaught of winter. We climb a creaky staircase, and then we're finally inside. The tea smells good. My fingers tingle and come back to life. I reach for the Wired on your coffee table, but you lunge for it first, and then you tell me I'm only dating you for the magazines.

Your room is the lovely mess that it always is. A half dozen unfinished books glance up hopefully as we come in. A box of yarn winks from under the table. From the opposite corner, a papier-mâché lamp pours warm light over everything. The rain seems harmless and muted, banished outside your windows. Your bedspread is magenta, and your papasan is magenta, and your little-chair-that-is-a-box is magenta. And you're wearing that magenta long-sleeve that looks so pretty on you. And then we're under the blankets, and it's warm, and that long-sleeve comes off, and then my memory just kind of melts...

Happiness is: Waking up next to you.

The blue morning spills softly into your room, through the sleepy eyelids of your window shades. Your forehead is like a flip-book on which dreams unfold. Like that flip-book you made once, where a girl blows into a balloon, and the balloon is a heart, and it soars, and the girl is jumping with joy. And then an arrow comes and pops the balloon, and it spills water all over the place, and the girl is soaked and shivering, and the smile is wiped off her face. Because that's how things were in the past. And now you nestle your head against my shoulder and I hold my breath, afraid to disturb this perfect moment.

It's Sunday and we stay in bed till noon. You're taking seven classes, and I have a fucking thesis to write, but none of that matters right now, because you're here in my arms, and everything is as it should be. On the other side of the thin wall, your neighbor tries to drown us out with Christian music, but we just roll our eyes. Eventually our stomachs get the better of us, and we step barefoot into the kitchen. We fry some dumplings. I eat mine with soy sauce, and you laugh at me for avoiding the spicier stuff. You pop a yam into the oven, and I call it a potato just to get on your nerves. Let's play these games every Sunday; I wouldn't mind. I look at you and I feel warm inside. This feels like home. This is what I've been searching for all along.

Happiness is: Feeling like I belong. Feeling wanted.

Let's barricade ourselves on the couch and finish Funny Farm. Let's write a novel together. When December comes, let's make a snowman at Powder House Square. Then go to New York City for spring break. And in the summer, let's go read Alan Moore at the Fells. I'll teach you how to ride a bike. You'll teach me how to carve pumpkins for Halloween. Stay another day. Stay another year. Why did you have to leave so soon? I have so many things to tell you. I met Neal Stephenson and asked him about the antique-furniture scene. And did you know he uses a treadmill desk? You would've been so excited. You would've wanted to hear all about it. But now I'm here, in this weird place where it never thunders, and you are ashes in an urn somewhere. My memories keep swelling and spilling over, like a song on repeat, and I don't know which will end first: the rain, or my batteries.


If only it could all stop there,
As we walked back from Davis square,
Drinking that sweet November air
On Bristol Road.