I’ve been absent my friends, but mostly in spirit, though. I’ve been here packing boxes, sorting cassettes, spoons, postcards… filling out forms, running errands and vacating from this place – my home! – all remnants of me. It has been an exercise both existential and physical (to be avoided if melancholy or faint of heart). What’s more, Brendan has been highly distraught ever since I told him. Believe it or not, but it pains me to leave this guy. As beefy, brutish and brash as he may seem, he’s the biggest kid of us all, and I’m sure he will double his bench-presses over the next few weeks to push back the emotion that is already visible in his face and manifest in his regular outbursts – Goddam you, Lui, Goddam you!
But here we are. December 25th. X-mas day. And as this strange, invertebrate year crawls slowly to a close, I’m on the point of departure, my life whittled down to its bare bones, the chaff out on the curb ready for collection. I have a few more phone calls to make and a dinner at a Chinese restaurant tonight, but to be honest, my heart isn't in it, I'm fizzing with anticipation, and my mind may be partly on its way already. Besides Goni’s extraordinary abruptness cutting me adrift, my head is clear and my heart unencumbered. I'm ready.
One final thing, though. You'll think me odd, maybe even pubescent – and you'd be right on that one, I’ve been sixteen for as long as I can remember – but the fact is, I would really, terribly like to see Anna just one last time before I go; my dangly-armed, deer-eyed Anna. After the Chinese tonight I will go look for her. I will put on my best shirt, spray my teeth with Vicks, gather my courage and - who knows - ask her out, buy her a drink, hold her hand, touch her arm, kiss her ears, feel her –
Cool it, Lui! Find her first; speak to her in your many tongues, amuse her with you body language, and whatever you do, stand straight and do not roll your eyes, that’s what old Croat’s do and you’re not an old Croat, you’re a young vigorous European on the cusp of a great adventure, a journey that will change you, and perhaps – if you are fully invested –change others too.
I am Lui Labas, signing off for 2008, wishing you – and you know who you are, don’t make me call your name – wishing you THE year.
The year in which everything comes together. The year in which – even magically, if that’s what it takes – all the pieces fly effortlessly into place like a crashing vase played in reverse.
I wish it for you.
Your fondest admirer, your adventurer,