she looks like a buffy to me
Someone asked me the other day if I was named after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m serious. So was he.
The thing about names is they sometimes suck. I hated being a Buffy. The absolute bane of my existence until I was 18 and realised I could never be anything ordinary. I never let on that I despised the name, or the incessant ‘oh I have a dog called that’ giggles that I put up with from friends and foes for years.
No. I couldn’t complain about the name, because it came from Blue.
You need to know this: I invent my own people – my own characters. If you think you recognise someone – you don’t. They are all creations of a thunked-out mind. All people, places and things fall from my head the way dead pigeons sometimes fall from the sky. Any similarities between my peeps and actual peeps are strict coincidence. Promise.
That said, I will make one (Read it. One.) exception. Brother Blue.
Blue bares a vague resemblance to my grandfather’s best friend. Ex special forces, city boy and butcher. Blue was a pastor. When my father couldn’t be bothered to show up for the birth of his first child my grandfather took his place – By his side was Blue.
“Her name is Tiffany.”
That was my mom. Her heart was set on Tiffany. She had wanted a baby with the scary pink moniker since she was twelve. But I guess being an unwed mother and having to look into the eyes of the church elder after 26 hours of labor took its toll on a person because when Blue said “She looks like a Buffy to me” – that was it.
Blue was one cool cat. He had been places. Places the people I knew didn’t even read about. Books from France and Italy loitered his house. Pottery and papers from far flung corners covered his living room. He cried at the Wailing Wall and laughed in gangland Chicago.
He knew things too. Blue whizzed through Oxford as a young man (I’ll tell you about it sometime), studied long gone languages (Not this parle vous francais crap – I’m talking Indiana Jones stuff) and could tell you the exact amount of crushed birth control needed to make your roses ribbon worthy.
Mountain men didn’t grow roses and they sure didn’t speak ancient Aramaic. But Blue wasn’t really a mountain man. He was….just a man.
When I moved to England a retired Blue took a trunk full of him and moved back to his old army base in Fort Bragg North Carolina. His wife was dead and he went to share a house with his sister and her husband. I phoned him every month. Wrote him from time to time. He had a stroke two years in and they said he forgot things. My calls grew more infrequent. He was sick and I was busy with a new life. I didn’t want things to be uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to say. But Blue always knew who I was, as soon as I said his name, and even on his bad days we were never at a loss for words.
He died in his sleep.
Later, when his sister was going through what few things he had, she found a shoe box. In it were letters from me. When I was six. Ten. Twenty One. A picture of a turkey I drew with my hand when I was five. Just one trunk in a much lived life – and a shoe box of it was me.
I never thought about death – or about how we just ‘sometimes go on and forget’ – until Blue died. Since then, thats all I think about. Maybe I’m just getting older. Maybe I’m just thinking more than I should.
The day before I left home Blue took me out to lunch – his favorite mom-and-pop on a wind-about road in the hills of McDowell County. He told me to stay warm. To always remember him. And to go see the White Cliffs of Dover – the most beautiful place in the world, even when you weren’t coming home from four years of war.
I never saw him again.
I don’t cry much these days, but when I do, it’s because of Blue.
I sure do miss my Blue.