Today is the third anniversary of my first blog post, the day most of us use to signify the beginning of The Fall. Today marks three full years since, and the beginning of our fourth year living within the end of the world.
Think about that for a minute. Really.
For today, I want to ignore everything else going on in the world and just tell you about something that really interested me. My blog, my prerogative, but it might make you think a bit, too.
The world ended, right? Yet who would have thought, three years ago, that after all the danger and struggle and death we'd be in a place where not only can you stop by somewhere and get a cheeseburger, but that we'd also be making new friends while we do it? Something as formerly normal as going out to eat with people and getting to know them, sitting around a table and chatting in the guarded way all fresh acquaintances used to do as a way of testing the boundaries of other people. Seems mundane when you look at it from the context of the world that was. In the world that is? It's just short of miraculous.
Yesterday I learned some things. One is that Beckley fucking loves cheeseburgers. His post the other day didn't do his obsession justice. To pay for our meal--he said it was his treat--Beckley offered to work for the establishment in question for ten hours. His labor paid for my meal, his, and Big K's. I hope the work is worth it to my soon-to-be therapist, because we made sure to stuff ourselves to the brim.
Beckley ate four all by himself. I had three with fries. K, even though he's twice my size, only had one and a side of fries, though I could tell he wasn't quite full. I guess K is more thoughtful than I am.
You can learn a lot about other people by watching them eat. Beckley tore through his like the Hamburglar, barely taking breaths between bites. For an average-sized dude, he can turn into a ravenous savage when it comes to food. He went through a stack of napkins thicker than War and Peace by the end of his frenzy. K on the other hand took his time and ate delicately, savoring each bite and blowing on the bits to make sure they wouldn't burn his tongue. While Beckley only grunted responses between huge bites, K took pauses to keep the conversation going.
I fall somewhere between the two of them, though admittedly I mostly used my sleeve to wipe my mouth. I'd like to say it was because I was afraid Beckley would bite my hand if I made a move for the napkins, but the truth is I'm just kind of a slob that way. I wash my own clothes, so it's not like I was foisting the effort of mustard removal off on anyone else.
The interesting thing to me wasn't the conversation itself, which was mostly banal stuff; what each of us did before The Fall, what kinds of things we did after (I didn't have to say much, obviously, since my life is an open book on this blog) and the like. What fascinated me was the way we had the conversation, the little pieces of body language that indicate comfort or discomfort with the people around us. Again, it was like the three of us occupied equidistant spots on a spectrum. Beckley is intelligent and thoughtful, but very expressive. He doesn't move his body around much but that's mostly because wherever he sits, he lounges. He's a relaxed guy, and my guess is that he's also one with a set of balls that drag the ground when he walks. To be that relaxed sitting in the open inside a colony of people that considered you a 'kill on sight' enemy just weeks before? Balls. Brass ones.
Big K is more reserved. I know he can fight, and the fact that he's this giant guy automatically builds preconceived notions. But none of that. He's cautious and talks with his hands when he wants to make a point, but otherwise tries not to offend the other parties or give away much about himself. He never grins or laughs from the belly. At all times he seems to control his reactions. The fact that he speaks like a college professor most of the time makes me wonder if being my assistant is a vast underutilization of his talents. I already knew he had more education than many of us, but yesterday I got to see that fine analytical mind of his churn along at cruising speed.
Granted, the part of the discussion at lunch that most involved us a group was about who would win in a fight between fictional characters. Beckley was all about Superman coming out on top. K stuck with Luke Skywalker, and I--of course--pointed out that Batman would kick the shit out of both of them. It's like K and Beckley live in some crazy fantasy world where logic is backwards and Bruce Wayne isn't the most dangerous man in creation. Not understanding that must be a sad way to live.
Just three guys sitting around a table, cooking their own burgers on the small firepit in the middle of it. The umbrella rising from the holder on one edge of the table barely kept any of the snow off our heads, but wrapped up as we were in clothes and conversation, that didn't matter much.
When I got home from that lunch with Big K in tow, I realized I'd had a great time. I was still thinking about it long after K went home, and mentioned to Jess (who finally made it back to our house after nearly a week sleeping at the greenhouse) that I'd forgotten for a while about everything else, thanks to my time with those guys. The war, the undead, the uncertainty casting a shadow on every day ahead of us. For a brief time that was all gone, and even when I started to think about it again, the darkness laying over the future seemed less deep.
That's where we are after three years. This, the fourth year of the end of the world, is one that presents challenges. But if we keep out eyes open, I'd bet that it will hand us just as many--if not more--opportunities.