…passing through. Like the cars and pedestrians along the sidewalk, which were scarce, though, because of the cold air. Never mind the cold air, I still took my phone out of my pocket and searched for the person I wanted — needed — to talk to. It was not a “smart” phone, so my thumbs grew numb as I clicked hundreds of times to write one word.
It was not written in the interest of a romantic encounter, but it had to do with romance anyways. She was the only one I could talk to, because she knew already how to do it. Or at least that it could be done, happily or otherwise.
When I opened the apartment door, a small gathering of people was inside watching a movie, including her. I wanted to sneak away to our coffee without telling anyone or being asked questions. How? No matter, I was determined and could not take the plunge if I stepped backward on the diving board of my insecurity. Same ol’ insecurity.
Once the movie finished, I spoke my text aloud. “Coffee.” If there was a half-question mark, I would use it. I said that word in a way that sounded like a question, but functioned like a command. “Sure.” One of the roommates asked, “you’re getting coffee? Right now?” She replied, “I guess so.” I remained silent, holding onto my sleeves as I put on my jacket. It was about 10:00 PM.
I babbled nonsense as we walked to the 21-hour restaurant. Its name, Hard Times, was all at once a hyperbole and understatement. But oh, the coffee, ’twas flowing and ’twas cheap. She walked along and listened. I babbled through the cigarette smoke outside the door, and babbled in between my words to the cashier, who probably strained the coffee out of his dreadlocks earlier that day. I babbled our path to the creamer, past the free clothing bin, and to a rocky table where we sat. My goal accomplished — sitting and drinking coffee — I finally stopped babbling and got to the point.
I flooded her with questions. She flooded me with questions right back, though with the answer intertwined. I was left either nodding or sighing or both. We both knew the answers before I asked the questions. “What would my parents think?” “What do you think that they would think?” “If you date someone of the other gender, will you tell them?” “Well, wouldn’t you want to know if you were them?”
So flowed the coffee of our conversation for the next four hours. I probably had a car at that point, because I remember driving her back home so she wouldn’t have to bike or ride the bus. It was not terribly cold anymore, despite the late hour. Just as I pulled up on the side of the road across the street from the house that she shared with half a dozen strangers, we both noticed an incredible moon sitting in the sky.
“Can we walk through the park to get a better view of the moon?” “Yes, please.”
We got out of the car and, like 6-year-olds, ran to the playground and climbed on the equipment. The moon was our goal, but the pettiness of a playground was worth a detour in our adventure. I tried to balance without hands on low-lying monkey bars. The river of silver wood chips, very coarse and real and hard on the feet, was far below for the time being. From the wooden castle, we leaped off of the highest tower and cruised through shadowy woodlands to a large open field, which was grey-green in the light of the moon. The clouds floated beneath it and obstructed our view. We ducked and dodged to catch a better glimpse, as though the tiny angle we gained by turning our necks would have any effect on heaven. Tired of our jaunt, we fell to the ground and gazed from our backs.
It would be hard to recall what we talked about. The stars, the planets, how small we are, how small our problems are, how you can’t see any color when the sun has set, how you can never get perfectly comfortable when you lay on the ground. A heavy object had lifted from me, gone up into the dark matter where delusions get stuck. I couldn’t feel the silver ground anymore and I was floating around in outer space among stars and planets and rocks and shit like that, and everything was so amazing and I wanted to stay there and feel burnt by sunspots.
We sat up and ate a picnic of the thoughts that were in between us. Talking to siblings, talking to friends, hoping that eventually we will have done enough talking about this silly subject that the talking would no longer be necessary. What phrase is best? What context does it come out of? The ground was lumpy, and I noticed a silver wood chip under my thigh. Maybe the best context is no context at all, because nothing will prepare them anyways. Yeah, probably not.
We stood, brushed off the silver, and walked back across the field. To any onlookers, it would have seemed as though we were simply…