‘Is the chair coming off?’ the bus-driver asked Sarge.
‘No,’ I said ‘I thought I’d leave the chair here and walk off myself. Have a nice day.’ And I went down the ramp.
Two more ramps and I was on a train to Glasgow. As I dug my book out of my backpack, I realised this was the first time I’d done such a trip without Sarge. And I began to miss him, because I am sap.
I had plans to meet friends and camp out in the pub before spending the night at my Dad’s. Another ramp and I was at the bar.
Perhaps because I am a word-nerd and a beer-snob, I might have laughed.
‘Um. Raspberry.’ And then I read a sign that said the pub would be closing at the exact time I was meeting my friends. Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed.
I drank my raspberry beer, and I waited. Nobody else was in a hurry to leave. I may have actually looked up at the sky through the trees and said ‘I’m home.’ My friends arrived, and then another one. Then we got the chair and ourselves into a rather small car and went somewhere else. I told the story of how last year four people and the chair jig-sawed into a Fiat. And off we went. Good times.
The next place wasn’t closing, so we got dinner. I kept noticing things on the menu that Sarge liked.
‘I miss him. Is that weird?’
‘Yes. But no. But yes. More drink?’
We ate, and drank. And I swear peanut-butter cheesecake was cosmically placed on the menu just for me. Because my cheese-phobic boyfriend wasn’t there. Of course I ordered it, but I couldn’t finish it. I might have shed a tear.
At one point, my best friend knocked over my drink in a frenzy when her boyfriend walked through the door. Now. I cannot truthfully say that I don’t spill, drop or otherwise despatch my unfinished drinks sometimes, Sarge or no Sarge. But as I laughed and dabbed my vodka-soaked thigh, I asked my friends, ‘Are we that bad?’ I knew they’d speak the truth.
‘Worse. You guys are worse. But we love you.’
And that’s the truth.
We decided to do shots. For purely practical reasons. There is less for me to spill. I’m not co-ordinated enough to do tequila justice. There are too many steps. I do the salt and the licking in the wrong order. It makes me nervous. So I was on the B52s, which has only one step.
Sarge texted that he was bored and working late. He wanted vicarious excitement. I texted back: Doing shots and discussing rules of grammar. Does that work?
My friends are cool.
After arguing semi-colons; I asked if anybody wanted to come back to my Dad’s; so I could beat them at Poker. It was easier to get the chair in the car the second time round. The designated driver drove his sister and me to my Dad’s house. We talked about ethics and equality and the merits of good tequila until early in the morning.
My Dad’s cool, too.
Later that day, I went up another ramp into the taxi to the train station.
‘Where do you come from?’
‘Here,’ I said.
‘Where you going?’
This seemed to confuse the driver, who changed the subject to the weather.
I was browsing the books at Waverly, when Sarge says, ‘I thought I’d find you with the books.’
I was home again.
Home isn’t just one place, because some people have lots of places. Home is the people waiting for you when you get there.