So it’s mucky. Steamy, you know. The air is thick and warm and a bit intrusive. Heavy. It sticks to the skin and the clothes and in those hidden spots too.
I thought about you this morning. Well I woke up and made coffee and sat down in front of the fan to start my day and my mind wandered to you. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to and for all intents and purposes it’s almost like I never even knew you.
But I did.
I thought about how my time with you was quite labor intensive. A lot of work. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, so I didn’t even realize how much work until I wound up collapsing from exhaustion right after the fact of you. I was permanently changed from the inside out no doubt. But I learned so much about people which is why I’m even telling you this. I learned you gotta keep on your toes! Walk lightly on eggshells. This morning I came to the odd realization that the time I spent wrapped around your little finger was like being with two people. Does that make sense? Three’s a crowd, right? It felt like the first you was the one talking and moving and living life on the outside-the one I could see and hear and feel. The second was that very active and touchy but unseen person on the inside with an awful lot going on.
How you two doing?
Too much trickery for me.
When I saw you last week coming toward me in the parking lot, I shuddered and my knees shook and I trembled and I shivered and I felt like I’d convulse. I’m not exaggerating, I mean to have to talk to you? What could I even say that hasn’t already been said? I nodded hello unassumingly and kept walking, as people are known to do. I don’t think you saw me or if you did didn’t realize it was me. Besides, I learned a long time ago how to blend into the scenery with you. You did look preoccupied- almost like you were muttering to yourself. I couldn’t really tell.
It scared me.
It scared me to feel I’d have to be careful again. Careful in a conversation. I’ve learned I can’t live that carefully, watching my tone and inflection so closely. Watching it so you don’t get offended and think I mean something other than what I’m saying. So I was relieved to not have to talk to you, relieved I could just stay to myself.
I couldn’t bear to see you get all wound up again.
I went into the Odd-Lots and picked up my crap. You know, the stuff we have to buy to keep things going nowadays? When standing in the checkout line I could see you through the big windows. You were leaning against your car, smoking and talking on your phone. From the inside of the store I could even distinctly see your frown lines.
How many years of frowning did it take to get those?
I got bagged and I paid and walked over toward the exit. I waited on the inside of the store, leaning on my shopping cart, watching you, feeling you. It didn’t look like you were in any hurry whatsoever. I made small talk with an old gent sitting on the bench waiting for the next bus. One thing I know how to do is kill time. And he was nice. I took a handkerchief from my pocket and wiped the sweat off my brow. The trip out of this air conditioning and back into the humid heat of the day wasn’t going to be easy. Particularly with you on the scene.
But I can’t stand here much longer.
I walked out the automatic door and started back to my car. My sunglasses steamed up but I could still see your hands flailing and your mouth moving and your body language screaming “no good, no good”. God I remember that. I put my head down and made invisible and passed you by without missing a beat. Until you turned around and said, “Gerald is that you?”
I turned around casually while still pushing my cart toward my car and said over my shoulder, “Yes it is. Hello.”
You spoke abruptly into your phone, “Lemme call you back,” and started after me.