Nobody remembers how we ended up at St. Anne’s. It was winter and I was freezing. We sat on a park bench under a tree and talked about how lucky we were that all of the leaves had fallen so we could see the moon. We both remember the details of that night but nobody remembers how we arrived and nobody remembers how we wound up back at our respective houses after we burned our lips on the world’s hottest coffee.
We both remember falling asleep in your parents’ convertible the next winter, seats all the way back, watching for shooting stars. There were two. You drew a heart around your photo in my yearbook that night and put a chip in my high school heart shortly after that. And then, you disappeared.
The next time I saw you, you were on leave after basic training. You did the classic double-take walking by my job and we made plans for that night. We drank cheap beer at a hotel bar. You’d gotten there first and somehow talked the bartender into playing my favorite Cure CD on repeat. A week later, you returned to California, where you racked up a $1000 bill calling me from payphones. And then, like you, I disappeared.
This is what we do to each other. This is what we do to ourselves.
Thirteen years later, we connected and had a flurry of words over the next month.
I saved mine and let yours go…
Over and over, we calculate years…
years since we met,
years since we last spoke.
It’s sad how many lapsed in silence.
Let’s please not do that again.
Thursdays are words. Sentences. Thoughts.
Yours – terribly misspelled (always. still.)
Mine – fragmented and punctuated mainly with ellipses (always.still.)
(you’re disappearing - watch out)
But you didn’t disappear. We stayed in close touch. Until I was busy…
Usually it's the opposite,
but right now--
I have more words than time.
Time is not my friend these days.
And the phone--goddamn...
I don't know if it's my head
or my time that's mismanaged.
I am working on both, though.
Or you were busy…
Call me soon, please.
I need to
tell you things
about stuff. And to
laugh with you.
Do this. Yes.
In an email a few months later, you attached three images of the Horseshoe Nebula. You told me about trying to get a shot with a long enough exposure. The biggest challenge, you told me, was that Orion was on the horizon and that there was a lot of atmosphere to shoot through. It was so cold at 3am your beer froze in the bottle. Those images, you told me, were the nebula that is visible to the naked eye in very dark skies or with binoculars in just about any sky, how a telescope from Earth sees it and how Hubble sees it. I still look at these three pops of light and color ten years later.
Then, we had this conversation and you disappeared…
You – You have no idea how many nights I think about waking up next to you, but what I have to do and what I think are two very separate things. And I am not kidding. This thought of something as simple as waking up and looking over is just a ghost that I think I see.
Me – I remember sleeping in the same bed with you a couple of times. I could probably still draw the freckle pattern on the back of your neck.
You – We slept in the same bed. But we never woke up.
Goddamn you for disappearing again.
Nobody knows how we ended up like this. I just want to say hello. And I want you to say hello back.
Have coffee. Have a beer in a hotel bar. Talk about the sky.
I just want to be your friend.