You could either be successful or be us with our winning smiles

One from my notebook: Bryn.

in the kitchen

BRYN

is a boy who could be any age between about 17 and 28. He is pale with pretty jade-green eyes and a dreadhawk which is dun at the roots and then dyed to a subtle, denim blue tending toward slate; I want to say it matches his eyes, but his eyes are really quite different, greener; I think what I mean is it matches somebody’s eyes. It does match his hoody, well-worn, soft like a faded photograph. He has a piercing on the right-hand side of his lip and wears a little ring in it which perhaps lends the impression of a half-smile even when he is not half-smiling (which he is quite often), and he has a slightly unusual face with a prominent nose and mild chin, a little as though when somebody made him, they started by pinching a little pinch of the Bryn-clay and pulled it forward to make a nose, then added everything else around it as an afterthought.

He reminds me of my brother immediately I see him, which is in the kitchen on the first day extolling the virtues of drinking cups of hot water to avoid caffeine. Someone shouts “Bryn, you’re taking this vegan thing too far!” and so I assume he’s straight edge, but then later it turns out he isn’t at all. I say “drinking hot water, eh? It’s really good for you, isn’t it?” (having not regained my Lahndan ‘innit’, definitely not at this stage, I don’t think I did at all really, or maybe self-parodyingly a bit.) and Bryn says “nah it’s not good for you, it just tastes really nice! Nicer than cold water. You should try it”. And this exchange sums up something of what little I’ve gathered about the nature of Bryn: he is unconventionally affable, he is serious but never earnest, or he is light-hearted but never free-wheeling. Something like that. Also he seems, unusually, to be absolutely as happy and comfortable chatting in a group of people or sitting in silence alone somewhere with his thoughts and the sky and the faraway sea in his eyes. If you find him doing the latter, and talk to him, he responds as though he’d just been waiting for you to come along (and ask him what he got up to last night, or whatever – “folk rave!” he might enthusiastically say), rather than as though you’re interrupting. He is quietly confident and never brash; his style is demonstrated when I shyly ask if I can take his photograph and he keenly agrees, smiles, but then doesn’t quite meet the camera’s gaze. It is quite delightful really.

On the last day, when we are in a terrible rush due to leaving the site an hour later than we’d planned (I blame F), we stagger, loaded with bags, past Bryn on our way out. I drop some of mine to hug him and kiss him on the cheek, though because a light rain is falling again, he has his hood up and it gets in the way and so the kiss lands far over toward his lips, perhaps touching them at one side, and I’m a bit embarrassed. Again, that feeling that I want to say something meaningful, or I want to tell him something but I don’t know what. I think I say “it was really good to meet you”, and then he says something about flickr and I say “I will!”

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