a love letter to buoyancy

by s.

I’ve been working on a piece about buoyancy as it pertains to people. “Buoyant” is, I guess, not the most popular word to describe a person, but you kind of know it when you see it. The word carries itself through an entire chapter, to be honest, and lifts up one person in particular. In the context of the story, it would be impossible to describe him without it. About him, and about buoyancy, I wrote this:

“How many people do you know that you can truly describe as buoyant? When you find one, you hold them close because you will otherwise lose track of them entirely. Blink once and they are gone, a mile ahead of you on the bike trail or vanished to another country where they’ve embarked on a motorcycle trip through the mountains. Buoyant people are attracted to the people who are most attracted to them.”

The biggest problem with most of my words is that they are actually honest and that I am the fool who forgets them. Everyone blinks, sometimes, and it is just like I said because the bouyant people will float up and be completely gone while you’re still waiting for them to pick you up for a bike ride. That really happens.

And so it will hurt like hell, and in these instances I never know how to finish the story because there’s a giant “maybe” hanging in front of me. With every maybe, there is a hint of optimism, and despite my best self-preservation instincts I will always presume optimism until the last possible moments. One of my favorites said to me later that “everything depends on the buoyancy of that ‘maybe’,” as though the person had become the “maybe”, and in fact maybe he has.

Last night I went to see the brilliantly loud, jangly, and perfectly rock n’ roll Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks with three people I am quite fond of. We stood in the balcony, sparsely populated with industry people looking predictably unnattached to their surroundings. When the music started, all four of us started to jump up and down in unison as though we’d had an unspoken agreement to act like children. There was singing. There was pointing. There were arms flailing loudly in the air. There was stomping and clapping and at a certain point there were tequila shots.

I can tell you how this felt, but I am certain that you are bright enough to have guessed: this was buoyancy at its best. It hadn’t even really started with the rock show, but at dinner as we picked on each other and got indignant or excited about the same things. It carried itself long past the encore as we convinced ourselves we weren’t too old for the afterparty, stopped for second dinner, and realized we are definitely too old for the afterparty. Michelle texted me with pictures and exclamation points hours later as I was falling asleep, and we began the morning in much the same manner. Later, I went out to meet her for a quick coffee run, and as I saw her walking down the street, I started to jump up and down.

I guess the thing to be learned about buoyancy is that it manifests itself in different ways, and that it’s not a constant in anyone. You know it when you see it, but I think you might have to set yourself up to see it first. I am not a bouyant person. I can tell you that for certain. I am more like lighter fluid: there is something about me that attracts the bouyant. There is something about my world that entails jumping up and down. I will attract you buoyant people like moths to the flame until the day I die, and there may not be a damn thing I can do to make you stay. All I can do is hope that when you float away, you lift me up a little bit in the process. The end to the piece that I’m writing – the end to the story – seems to have a lot to do with hanging our hats on that maybe.

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