Sunday, July 18, 2004

This isn't all of it, I told her, really I think this is just the beginning. I'm going to see you down the road. It's not a question. "I know," she said. We had one of those 'I don't want to close my eyes because you might not actually be here' kisses. Then she walked away from me. Just like I walked away from her 3 years ago. Of course back then I didn't know she felt me walking away. I felt it. I just didn't know how much. I wish I could go back and be there. Or at least watch it on TV. Do you want to take a step back there with me? Cause usually you and me are living in what is and what is to be. Because I am not a person who looks backwards too often. When you look back your mind likes to play tricks on you. And the what-if's can ruin your life.

Apparently I shook her hand like a dead fish. Her hand was so small. I was smaller then too. At least on the outside. But I've always had crazy big hands. I am living proof that what they say about guys with big hands is true. And that deuch bag named Zach introduced us. In the basement. In the library. Somewhere far away from here. Over 2000 miles.  And all 3 of us were miserable. We all wanted out. Out of that place we had been stuck. Out of the cold. I wanted out so bad I thought I would burst. I remember looking at her freckled face and falling into a what-could-be. But we didn't talk again for a while. I think we even forgot about each other. Spring came. There were 6 weeks left and I was ready to leave. I knew that I was not coming back. But she broke up with some idiot who wasn't even there. Ha was the reason she was so miserable. I guess she had been dating him since before she came there. And now that she was free she decided to come back next year. And I was hanging with my bro B. He knew her. He lived right down the hall. He liked her. He was a child. No depth. That was fine. He was fun to hang with. And I started to feel things in my stomach when I was with her. But I was leaving. And I was never with her without B. So why not put the two of them together? The spring came. I took trips. One trip with the 3 of us. We went to NYC. I remember the oceanside bench in NYC. I remember looking out at Lady Liberty. I remember the sun setting behind her. And there were three of us. All sitting on the bench. And I pushed the two of them together. Cause it seemed right. What else could I have done? Even though she was like me in the worst ways. In the funny ways. In the ways that matter at the heart of it all. In the ways that sometimes it makes your heart hurt when they're not sitting there with you. In the way it almost makes you want to cry. I was leaving. And a few weeks later I did leave.

And in the fall I was far away from her. I was here. I would never forget her though. But B was there. And they were together. Which was fine because I thought that he could teach her a good lesson about how people like me and her maybe need someone a little deeper. We still talked. I don't even remember why. Or about what. But I knew that I needed to see her again. That I would see her again. All year she dated B. And then that summer I was in Alaska. And she went to see him. Fuck. They weren't supposed to be together this long. But they were. I came home and I let the sport take me. Cause all the girls I dated were horrible to me before that. I didn't need a girl. I let the sport consume me. It can take everything if you want it to. A man and his work. He can give his work his heart and his soul and every ounce of his strength. But even then we kept talking.

And she went to Italy. While I was traveling around competing. And we wrote e-mail to each other. Beautiful e-mails. I wish I had saved them. E-mails between friends. About deep things. And finally B broke up with her. Or she with him. They weren't even supposed to be together. It didn't matter who broke up with who. And she came home from Italy. And I left a message on her phone. And she left one on mine. And we IM'd. Everyday. It was amazing. It was summer. I gave up the sport. I was ready to be broken down. And she did it from 2000 miles away. She did it during my night and weekend minutes. She did it on IM while I was trying to get work done at the super cool magazine. She did it with text messages. She broke me. She broke everything and I didn't even realize it.
 
And we joked about me coming to NYC. About me coming to see Conan and about what it would be like. Then she said she wanted to come here. I was petrified. What if it wasn't the same face to face? What if she looked different? What if we were different? I was anxious and I told her not to come. Then I told her to come. She told me I killed her. But she came. And her plane was late. But when I walked up to baggage carousel 3 and I saw her standing there and I knew all was going to be OK. She hadn't even seen me yet. But I knew. And when she saw me and smiled I knew in a whole new way. And I knew for sure that I was broken. Broken in the best way. In the way that I might never recover from. Cause this was 3 years in the making. 3 years of words. Words on the page. Words whispered in my ear. Words on my cell phone. Just like these words you are reading now. All words with no physical contact. This was the shit they make movies about. The movies you don't believe could actually happen in real life.
 
When she told me that since the basement in the library she had always wanted to be here I almost screamed out loud. The whole time she wanted to be here. The whole time she was with B. The entire trip to NYC. Those 10 minutes on the bench by the water in the sunset. The entire time she was in Italy. While I was in Alaska. And the whole time in between. The whole time. Sure we saw all these other people around us. And we touched some. But that didn't matter. And the whole time she was here I didn't want to stop touching her. Cause that's all I will really remember. Not the hikes or the movies or the lunches and dinners or the drinks or the car rides or the saying goodbye. Just the touching.   Well, maybe I'll remember her looking at me. Maybe I'll remember her smell. Maybe I'll remember more. The first kiss. Sometime between 2 and 4AM. When you're not quite sure if you're even still awake or already dreaming. But I don't know for sure. And now all that's left are her toothbrush, 2 hair-ties, the smell of her perfume on my bed and 2000 miles. I don't know if or when I'll see her again. I don't know that when I do it will be the same. If we will be the same. If it can ever be the same.
 
But This isn't all of it, I keep telling myself. Really I think this is just the beginning. Yes, I'm going to see her down the road.  I know I will. It's not a question.






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