time is slow sometimes, it is too fast!! we say.
it was a long day, time flies!
i don’t see you for two years and i wonder if i ever will and then i do not see you for five or for six, faces change, we watch across an ocean or a town or a screen or a mirror and
i don’t see you for a decade.
i wonder if i will ever run into you. maybe in an airport. yes, in between flights, in a major city, yes, perhaps, on the street: you in town for a conference, me visiting an old friend. no, no, nobody you know. yes, of course, i’m still friends with her! still the tiny gap between her teeth. maybe in a bar in the city where you now live, i don’t know which one it is, maybe at a wedding of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. no, probably in an airport and you are walking slowly but with purpose and i am frazzled from the security and i am wondering which of the crowded and expensive bars will work and then you catch my eye and it is quick and surreal and i think that maybe i am seeing a ghost, but then there you are and—
i have had five different houses, but I have not left the city.
the city is too good to me.
you have left the country and come back, many times over, maybe. you have found new cities and then newer ones. you’re going to canada? it seems their president is better than ours, you should say hello to him.
you have so many new degrees, what will you do with them all?
i just have the one, the same one we got together, do you remember the picture from that day? all the spring wind across the astroturf, my parents holding hands and my mom begging me to take off the hat, take off the hat, just for a second and SNAPSNAPSNAP there is a picture of us with our mouths open wide like we are singers on a cruise ship, we are gulping down the wind, drying out the backs of our tongues with the fresh air. i am young and i am skinny and i am so hungover even my eyelashes are dehydrated and i can see yours in that picture, long and feminine and cascading.
i have gained weight and you have lost hair. i can still see those eyelashes but it is easier to look away. your jaw is sharper, maybe. i am a sucker for a good jaw line. i have always been a sucker and i will always be a sucker and i do not remember your jaw line being that sharp, was it always that sharp i cannot ask but i can guess, and
you’ve had more sex, though you don’t tell me about it specifically. i can see it in the way you stand and how your feet are planted into the ground like rooted trees even though your flight is boarding and i know that women must like when they can sense your commitment through the tips of your toes pressing into the ground toward them and
you will be somebody’s husband? this part catches in my lungs a little bit, like a speck of tobacco that has made it through the filter, and no i still do not smoke and yes that is a ring on my finger, yes he is so wonderful and sometimes he plants his feet like trees—
but hang on, who is the lucky lady? i gesticulate wildly and smile with all of my straight teeth and i think i am grimacing and i wish we were in the airport bar instead of just standing aimlessly afloat in all of the foot traffic, and i can’t breathe i can’t breathe and then i can, and her name is erin or ellen or something generic, i have already forgotten it. i will write it down later.
there is a small dip in the conversation and you glance down at your hands and they look the same but there is a small tattoo on your thumb and i cannot bear to ask about another unfamiliar part of you, but yes, of course, you have watched all of Mad Men and yes, Don is so complex but no, no, you haven’t gotten into Stranger Things yet.
i mention the airport bar because the dip has become a ditch has become a grave and i will not die in it with you today and that is when you say that you are sober now, yes, several many some years, and i think the last time we were together we were drunk, no, maybe just a few drinks. Yuenglings, on the floor of my first apartment, i didn’t have a job yet. yes, of course, i read the book and no i haven’t rock climbed in years. you once went on a date with a famous movie star but you can’t tell me her name and you met her at a bar, that was before you got sober.
the wedding will be in the fall —it is so soon!—and your little brother will be your best man, you show me a picture on your phone and his face is a ghost of the you i knew, and my lungs are all sticky again and i have to rest my hand and my body and all of my bones on the handle of my suitcase, and i think that it is hard sometimes to feel my face when i talk to you, and yes, that’s right, your brother will be the best man!
the last time i saw him we bought cartloads of whiskey and set it on his doorstep and he paid us in quarters. we wanted to kill him but decided it would be a logistical nightmare.
god, you’ve grown older. i can’t tell and then i can and i see the decade inside every crease of your eyelids, every fleck of year in the skin on your forehead, i can see it all. oh yes then: a decade seemed an eternity, some endless black hole of inconceivable time, but here, now, seeing you! in ohio, of all places, i say. you rub your new jaw line with your old hand and the tattoo is still there and my god, how long it’s been.
connecting flight to detroit, and me, i’m headed home, my new home or old home i don’t know how to phrase it for you but it is not here, and how strange for our paths to cross like this yes yes yes i wish we had more time to catch up we could sit down and grab a — yes it was so nice and
it is an instant, a flash of memory and light and the noise of strangers, a glimpse of tiny time so small I wonder if—
safe travels! seat backs and tray tables in their full upright and locked position,
See you ——