A Portrait of Travelling Companions

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
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Trip End Nov 31, 2005


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Flag of Australia  ,
Sunday, January 2, 2005

Donny O'Brien is draped on his stomach over an ottoman, absently twirling a small Australian flag while he stares at the television. John Law stands behind him, dangling a Cosmopolitan magazine from one hand. Donny is Irish, lanky and blond, with a habit of letting his mouth hang open when he concentrates; John is a Brit, a solid dose of manners and tea-drinking packed into a compact frame, finished off with an unruly shock of Harry Potter hair.

John is very reserved in his mannerisms; easy to become friends with but often hard to completely capture in any given moment. One could describe him as lovely and leave it at that, if not for the moments when he sits alone and you catch a different look in his eyes, something older, other, almost sorrowful that doesn't match with his tea-drinking habit, his detailed note-keeping on the spelling of city names and plant types, his quick jump of excitement when anyone talks to him about the weather. John seems like an open book at first acquaintance, but eventually you come to understand that all he's allowing you to read is the table of contents.

Donny, too, can be a puzzle--a fallen angel--the looks of an anagel paired with a scoundrel's gift for saying just the wrong thing at the wrong time, but grinning so huge through it all, bringing out those deep smile lines around his eyes, that you can't help but laugh and let it slide while he tosses out another of his flippant "I'm sorry, I'm sorry guys," apologies. He goes moody sometimes, too, quiet and gre, mostly in the mornings. He hides it behind a coat of tiredness.

The two of them don't match, but in the backpacking way it works well as a friendship; their qualities keeping them in harmony (most of the the time, anyways). If they were superheroes, it would be hard to say who would be the sidekick; Donny can't navigate or remember where he's put anything, while John always seems to have a map hidden up his sleeve or down his sock, has already thought of every contingency; but Donny is the one who lightens up the mood when things are a little bleak. When I first met them they'd konwn each other for three weeks, but I would've believed longer if they'd claimed it; they have the easy chemistry of longtime friend, even down to the quick flaring sptas that hold no real heat.

Now they flop back into chairs in teh TV room, John drawn into the vortex of his magazine, his eyes unwillingly drawn up to glance at the smutty soap opera on the TV, while Donny, nominally watching, is more than willing to be dragged away from it by some chance remark or action. They both look up and grin at me at the same moment, catching me watching out of the corner of one eye, huddled in the corner of a sofa with my book, a pair of fluffy bunny ears momentarily adorning my head.

"What are you writing?" Donny asks. He always wants to pry into my journal and spy out bits that I've written about the two of them, and usually manages to get a reading by heaping praise on whatever I'd read to them previously. "Can I read it?"

I shake my head. "No, this one's not for you guys."
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