I bounce down the stairs into the 14th street station, delighted by the art I just took in, when I come to a sudden stop: your college roommate's face, spread across an advertisement, staring back at me. I stare back for a minute, taking it in, squinting - is it? yes. yup. definitely him. I swipe my metro card through and filter a realization through my bones: you are always somehow going to be around me.
I was at a beautiful one-woman show where, among other things, I wanted to tell the performer that I know her current co-star, but then realized I would need to explain how I know him and, well, I don't know how to put it and I'm too tired to try. When I run into your friends, they always say "you're _____'s Kerry!". And I smile because yes I am and I smile because no I'm not.
The weather app on my phone switched to show your hometown. For no reason. I stared at it to make sure I was seeing correctly and then laughed. The girl talking to me this evening mentioned she had just come from doing a show where you're currently working on one. This afternoon at work, another mentioned the same place during the few minutes we conversed. Could it have not been any other small coastal town that either mentioned? I rolled my eyes and laughed.
I walked up the street we walked home together on, passed the parking lot where we ran into each other after so long, recalling the way you slid your fingers through mine until you got embarrassed, nervous.
I almost give into it - that ache that lives in my gut and my heart and my hips. But then it dawns on me: tonight, while I watched this stunning show, my first thought was not how I wanted to tell you about it. My first thought was how lucky I felt to be there, how much I was enjoying it, how perfectly timed it was for me to hear her words. Later, sure, I wanted to tell you about it but really only after I made the connection that she's working with one of your best friends.
The way your energy follows me around is not a sad story, a "pity-me" type of thing. I think it's fucking cool. I can recall a past where I got angry when these bursts of you interrupted my life, cursing your very existence or wishing you were there with me. Now? Fucking cool. The connection between us remains steady regardless if we're in the same place, if we're on speaking terms, even when it feels scary. So much so that when I am not giving myself what I need, you step in and make sure of it. Even if making sure of it means causing me that ache that sits in my gut and my heart and my hips.
We had just gotten home from what I think was a date. I was too afraid to ask you if it was a date so, like all of the other times (save for that first French restaurant), I'm still not sure. Despite my protests, you had gotten me into my bed, my head tucked up into the part of you between your jawbone and shoulder. Our legs twisted up and our clothes fully on, except for your shoes and jacket which you had shucked the second I finally caved: "If I only get five minutes, I'm gonna make the most of it."
We lay together awhile before you spoke:
"My perfect world would be to go out somewhere with you every night, to dinner or a show or something and then come home together and have lots of sex."
"That's my perfect world, too. We both want the same thing. But that's dating."
"Nope. It is. That's what dating is."
I am almost home when the almost-giving-into-it hits, so I think of other things. I think how I miraculously finally figured out how to curl my hair tonight in the way I've always wanted but couldn't seem to maneuver. I think about how lucky I was to get to experience this show. I think about how much I love swishing my flowing skirt as I walk, twisting it between my fingers. I think about how all I wanted was macaroni and cheese and like magick, the market by my house had my vegan version. I think about how I want to go to London and Paris and Australia. I think about how I couldn't sleep last night. I think about how I want to tell you that you need to quit smoking immediately. I think about how the world needs your words and your words come from your mouth and your mouth works because your lungs keep breathing and so you need to quit now. I think about how your mouth and your tongue and your lips are necessities in my world and so, oh my god, you need to quit. I think about this stupid ballet show that Becca has me hooked on. I think about the class she gave me and the bars we went to over the weekend. I think about my day tomorrow and the one after that and the one after that and how I am booked up, booked up, because I always am the second I stop factoring you in, the second I stop waiting to hear back from you. And I think about how I miss you but I count on my fingers the number of days I have missed you while you are down the fucking street and so being several states away sort of seems like just another day. I think it's even better.
I think about how I have a life and a body and goals and dreams and a heart that I would like you to be a part of but if you are not then I will still have a life and a body and goals and dreams and a heart. They are mine either way. Offering them to you to take part in is just because I love you, not because I need you to keep those things alive and well.
I think I am alive and well.