I desperately needed a pleasant surprise today.
I got one! If you can imagine that Mr. Journal. Melancholy Adrian takes a vacation with Negative Nancy, and reasonably optimistic Adrian moves in for a bit. We had been planning on making a trip to Westfield on the 31st to do another one of our social trade days, but early this morning our radio lit up with traffic, and our plans have since changed.
Gavin was about five miles away, and was asking for permission to come onto campus. When the call came in, Patty, Abby and I were making a mediocre breakfast out of our mediocre breakfast supplies and we all exchanged wtf looks. Abby lit up like the sun busted through the roof directly onto her. You could feel her barely restrained joy.
Patty gave Gavin the green light to head onto campus, and we headed out to move the vans off the bridge so he could come in. Gavin drove onto campus a few minutes later in a beat up Dodge pickup truck. He waved at us, and parked the truck over near Hall A.
I instantly knew what he was here for the moment he got out of the truck. Guys can speak to this. Mr. Journal, if you’ve ever had a girl in your life you really liked, then you know what I’m talking about here.
Gavin got out of the truck and looked nervous, and sheepish. He looked quickly at Abby and smiled, then immediately walked over to Patty and I. I think patty knew what was up too, because out of the corner of my eye I caught her smiling. Gavin dragged both of his feet the entire twenty feet to us, and we waited for him to get to us. Abby stood frozen solid on the sidewalk near Hall A, and watched the whole thing go down.
Here’s a basic account of the conversation:
“Mrs. Williams, Mr. Ring, I was wondering if I could talk to you today for a bit?” Gavin looked like he had stolen our bicycles, and then shit on our doorstep. Guilty, and nervous as balls.
I smiled and nodded, and Patty simply said, “sure thing Gavin.”
He smiled again, and asked if we’d mind going somewhere private. I gestured to the foyer of the school building right near us. Gavin pulled open the big glass door and we ducked inside to escape the chilly morning air.
Gavin shuffled his feet for a bit and swallowed hard, then did his man’s deed. “I would like to move here to campus so I can ask Abigail to be my girlfriend.” He exhaled a deep sigh after saying it. His relief was palpable.
My heart damn near popped for joy. I’ve been there Mr. Journal. I’ve been the guy asking the dad for a date. I’ve been the guy who couldn’t sleep because he was worried his girlfriend’s dad wouldn’t let her go to the prom with you. I’ve had that nervous flutter in my chest as I wondered what would happen between me and the girl I thought I loved. The moment brought me back twenty years in the span of a breath. I could see that it did the same for Patty. Her eyes were glossy by the time Gavin was done talking. I wondered how Charles would have reacted were he standing in my place. I was a little honored to have been included in this exchange. Made me feel like family. I waited for Patty to gather herself while Gavin looked at her with eyes filled with the fear of rejection.
Gavin spoke before Patty did, “I really like her. And I know she really likes me. We’ve talked already, and we know we’re young, and living together would be weird, but we want to be close, and we want to try to make it work, and we understa-.”
Patty cut him off, “Gavin shush. She’s head over heels for you.”
Gavin’s eyes almost filled with his own tears when she said that. His chest puffed up and he looked so much like the scared 20 year old he was. We’ve all become so hard that we forget how vulnerable we can be when our emotions are revealed again.
“Son, you seem like a good young man. And If Abby likes you as much as I think she does, I’m sure I’ll feel the same in short order. But you understand this, things aren’t the same as they were in high school. You can’t be causing drama and fighting. If you want to be in love, you need to work at it, and never give up.” Patty’s tone was serious, but gentle. She wanted her daughter to be happy, and she wanted Gavin to understand the seriousness of the matter. A broken heart in today’s world had much larger consequences than a year ago. Gavin nodded at her, intently listening.
Patty looked to me, “Adrian, Charles isn’t here to speak for his daughter, you have anything to say to our poor defenseless young man here?”
I seriously debated dropping the “I’ve got a shotgun son, and I’m not afraid to go back to jail” speech, but elected not to go that route. I kept it simple.
“Gavin, I’ve been your age before, and Patty’s been Abby’s age before, and did all the stuff you two want to do right now. Believe me, we understand exactly what’s going through your minds. I need to know that you two are going to be smart about this. We can’t have Abby pregnant. If you two are fooling around, you need to use protection. We’ve got plenty of it, no sense risking the alternative until we’re very ready. And also, if you two don’t work out, we need to keep the drama to a minimum.”
Gavin blushed something fierce and nodded emphatically, “Yessir. I understand. I’m sorry about all that too.”
“Sorry for what? For being human and wanting to spend the best kind of time you can with the girl you love? There’s nothing to apologize for there.”
Patty hit me in the arm, but she was smiling. She knew. Gavin looked pretty sheepish after the whole exchange, and wound up shuffling his feet some more. Obviously he had only thought his plan out this far.
“So you’re saying you want to move here to campus Gavin?” I asked him.
“Oh yeah, totally. I’ll live wherever man.” Gavin was stoked at the question. His eyes lit up with excitement as soon as I asked him the question.
“Well, you’re certainly not gonna room with Abby just yet buster.” Patty pointed a finger at him with a sly smile. Gavin grinned, then made a sad face.
“We can stash you in one of the spare bedrooms on the top floor of Hall E I think. That way we’re all in the same building. Or if Ollie and Melissa wind up coming out here for sure, they can all shack up in Hall B that way he and Abby can have little dates.” I winked at him. He blushed some more.
“I’d prefer to live in the same building as you guys if that’s okay. We’re not gonna do anything if you know what I mean. We’ll be good. I promise.” Gavin seemed sincere.
“Said that before.” Patty smirked.
I nodded in agreement, “I’ve also made that promise too. Well mom, she’s your little girl. It’s your call.”
Patty thought long and hard about it then answered him just as he looked like he was about to explode from the wait, “well Gavin, if we’re gonna start trusting each other, we might as well start doing it now. Let’s get you set up in Hall E, and we’ll see what happens. But you gotta agree that if we say you gotta move, then you move no questions asked.”
Gavin cracked a smile that damn near showed every last one of his teeth, “you bet Mrs. Williams, I can’t thank you enough. I promise I’ll take good care of your daughter.”
“You better. You think life is bad now? Hell hath no fury buster.”
I patted him on the back, and we left the small glassed in foyer of the school building.
How funny is all that shit, right? Ahhh.. it makes me sort of giddy like a schoolgirl. I can almost feel the affection coming off them like rays of sunshine. It literally warms the heart to be around the two of them. I’m very happy for them, and I hope they wind up lasting for a good long time. I know the odds are stacked against them, but I think the little smidge of hope they represent for me does my sanity good.
We left Gavin and Abby to their devices outside for an hour or two, and they wound up walking around, doing what young kids do. Suck face. Patty kept going to the windows to look and see what they were doing, and every time she went, she made a gagging noise and pretended to throw up. I think she was appalled at the resolve the kids put forth in their kissing. She kept rambling on incessantly, “did you ever kiss that much? I don’t remember kissing that much? Do all girls look like whores when they kiss? He looks like he’s going to eat her face! Oh God what have I done? My poor little girl.”
Let it not go unsaid that Patty was far more worried about Gavin kissing her, than the chances that they’d get attacked by a wandering zombie here on campus. There’s something ironic and hilarious about that fact.
You’d think this was Abby’s first boyfriend judging by Patty’s reactions. You know actually, that’s a fairly legit question. Abby was cute, but she was a little bitchy, and a little nerdy, and I know she was not a huge hit with the boys here when they were alive. (they love her now, but mostly they’re just interested in trying to kill her and eat her) It is actually possible she’s still a virgin. Go Gavin, I suppose.
I’m sure Patty was missing Charles right then too. I know if I were in her shoes I’d want my husband or wife with me to deal with such a momentous situation with our child. I hope this gives Patty the hope it has given me too.
After the two lovebirds got done with their tonsil hockey they came back in and Patty managed to compose herself. I busted out laughing at her just as the kids came in, and they turned the color of tomatoes. The beans had been spilled.
After they composed themselves (again), Gavin sat down and filled us in on news from Westfield. Things there were very good. Life post-Sean had been good thus far, and Lisa Goldman has been what Gavin described as a “kick ass leader.” She’s organized training for folks so skills are shared that way no one is the only person who knows anything. She’s also made good safety decisions, puts everyone else before her, and seems like she actually cares. These are all exciting traits for a leader to h have.
They staged a mission a few days ago to a local construction company’s yard to obtain something we’ve needed. I know I thought of the idea of getting a milk truck to haul water, and I still maintain that’d work just fine, but Lenny had his reservations apparently. Something to do with the weight of water versus milk. Lenny instead realized that the local paving company had water trucks that they used to keep the dust down during hot, dry days. These trucks were about the size of the trucks that deliver your home heating oil. If the interior of the tank was cleaned and sterilized, then the water truck would serve admirably as a transportation device.
Their operation went smoothly, and they encountered minimal zombie resistance. Gavin said they had something around 50 to deal with the entire operation. He went on to explain that they took longer to find the keys to the truck than they did to kill all the zombies near where the truck was parked. Personally, I’m not sure if hearing that they encountered 50 zombies was a good thing, or a bad thing. I was under the impression they’d already largely cleared the area, and if they found 50 all in the same vicinity, then that means they haven’t cleared the area well, or the zombies have migrated in from elsewhere.
Apparently they’ve cleaned and prepped the truck already, and instead of us going there on the 31st, they’re coming here so we can fill the water tank. With the garden hoses we have... We’re looking at it taking hours to fill. Gavin felt like that truck was either a 2,000 gallon tank, or a 2,500 gallon tank. Either way, that could be as much as 6-10 hours to completely fill, depending on how fast we can get the water going, and how many hoses we can get going simultaneously.
Either way you cut it that totally solves our issue of supplying them with too little water, or wasting fuel making constant water runs. The rate of water consumption for drinking is like what? A gallon a day or something like that? If they have 40 people there (and that’s high) and they each consume a gallon a day over a week that adds up to 280 gallons a week. Triple that for bathing and washing dishes and whatnot, and we’re looking at having a 2,000 gallon tank being just about perfect to cover all their needs every week.
Very exciting news. It’s also pleasing to note that they did this on their own, and for once, one of my problems was solved by someone else. Yay Westfield friends, and hooray for not having to be the muscle, yet again.
Gavin said Mike and company would be arriving on campus at about 9am to facilitate the water loading on the truck. He also thought Ollie and Melissa would be coming to double check that they were still welcome here. Gavin felt that they were still very much excited to move here. Ollie especially, if only to get free of his dad’s farm, and to strike out on his own.
So yeah. All good news. Gavin dropped off a short list of things that they need in Westfield, and we can fill most of their order with no problem. Mostly they continue to need hygiene oriented supplies. Bleach, detergent, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, etc. We’ve got that in spades, especially after getting the stuff from STIG.
Mike’s note also mentioned he has two ACOG scopes for us, as well as more ammo, more of Lenny’s wares, and diesel fuel if needed. I think it’s funny that we are now giving them more than they need, and for the longest time, I thought it’d be the opposite. I’m pleased that they are now scrounging for items to trade to us for our resource(s). I’m sure when summer and fall rolls around and our crops are being harvested, we’ll have a more interesting set of trades. Until then, water is our oil, and we can trade it strong with them. I think we’re being fair to everyone right now too, which makes me happy.
Yesterday I ripped out the wall in my bedroom that adjoined the bedroom next to mine. Patty and Abby helped me, and surprisingly it didn’t take long at all to get the whole wall taken down, and the holes patched up with the bits of drywall lingering around in the basements on campus. Pleasantly, I found several full sheets in a bunch of places, which means we’ve got some decent interior finishing supplies should we need to do some work. I had the spackle applied, and we were cleaned up and drinking a beer after about six hours. As everyone was going to bed, I slapped a coat of the paint from the basement over the new stuff we put up, and I moved everything into my room an hour or two after that. Paint fumes for the win!
I slept downstairs last night lol. I couldn’t deal with the fresh paint smell. I cracked a window and blacked out down here on my two beer buzz. Huzzah for being a lightweight.
I am in a good place right now. I feel positive, almost invigorated. I have started to look at my life less in the light of my failings, and more in the light of my successes. I know I’m not perfect, and I know I will make mistakes, but I can’t murder myself over that anymore. I need to keep trying to be a better person, and to help others. I can be defined by more than my past. I can choose my legacy and make my future.
Something Gilbert said to me strikes me now as being particularly sagely. One day he and I were talking, I forget when, and he said something about how we now had to earn our salvation now.
That small concept has really sat with me and resonated, especially after having shot Steve. On paper… HOLY SHIT. I shot my friend Steve. Granted, he was dead at the time, but shit, I shot him in the face, and killed him again. Then I threw his body into a fire, and burnt it into ash.
And I’m totally okay with that, because I genuinely believe I brought him peace. I don’t know if I sent him to heaven, or to hell, or to wherever we get to go when our ticket is punched nowadays, but I feel down in the pit of my stomach that I brought him peace.
And that brings me peace. And I feel grateful that I am still here, able to bring some kind of release to the dead, and to help the living survive as long as possible, and to help them live the best lives that they can.
Now I know I’m not perfect. And I know I swear, and burp, and fart, and when I need to, I’ll push a turd down the drain of a shower.
But I think the world needs someone like that. Someone who is imperfect, but trying to be the best person they can, rising above life’s challenges, and rising above all the turds circling the drain.
Maybe someone like me.