Sunday, March 08, 2009

Here is Time

I was going to meet an entirely different friend. The lovely Traveler who has most recently returned to Korea and will probably be traveling on again before I even realize he has gone. It was arranged to meet for a late dinner on Thursday and determined that I should head to the Lonely Hearts and wait for his arrival around 8 pm.

It was a raining that night, the city in the pitch between winter and spring. There is warm mist coming in from storm drains as chill misty rain swirls in the air. I bring an umbrella and hope for the best as I walk trying to keep from being wet on the chilly streets on me ten minute walk to the bar. I will be early, I think, it will be quiet. A moment of solitude. I'm fine with that. Sometimes it is nice to be alone in your favorite home away from home. I like the quiet of it. It's a comfort.

Down the stairs I go and push up the swing doors so much like an old western saloon and what do I see but an ex-girlfriend sitting at the bar. She is lovely, hair recently permed, I can smell her perfume as soon as I walk in. She is sitting with a beer and a book and a lot of notes, studying for a class. I am happy to see her, I am sad to see her.

She says hello and smiles and we take a moment to hug each other, trade a few quiet questions. How are you, what are you doing, how is work/school, how is life? Polite conversations. Polite conversations. The conversations you have when you have nothing else to talk about. The conversations that come to mind when what you are thinking about is how the person sitting across from you looks nude in soft lights, the sounds we make when we are entwined, the touch of flesh under hands, the inspiration of a close press of bodies. We make polite conversations while our brains sort through a mix of awkward feelings and returns of sentiments that we have mutually agreed will not be shared again.

The polite questions come to an end being only so many that you can ask in a small space of time. I sit at the bar with her, a chair between us, her bag on the chair. The bag is a great wall it cuts us off. I sit and I am turned away from her toward the wall and she angles herself away from me. Now there is just silence with the light music that plays over it. Silence and the thick growing well of a past that flicks in and out under the surface. I read a book, she reads her notes. She lights a cigarette and the smoke curls into the air, wisps upwards. I watch her neck as she exhales a stream of acrid vapors into the room, she looks at me. We smile at each other. Make eye contact, avoid eye contact, look at our books.

The traveler arrives and breaks the silence. We talk and eventually move on to another venue for dinner, drinking, and different company. As the night wears on I move away from the silence and yet now, days later, the past lingers.

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