Kevin. You went off to work, I was alone in your apartment, an apartment on a street corner in Washington D.C., my first trip alone. You gave me your key, said youd be home after work. And so I left, closing the iron gate door I was so fascinated with behind me. I walked through campus, stretched out in the sun. I tucked the map in my pocket, walked through M street, took the correct turns. I remember someone on the street complimented my shirt. Being there, I was almost sure I had been in this town before.
And then I met this fellow, tall, unlike you, and we went out, and I knew I didnt have a care in the world, all my ties were almost broken, I was almost free. And Id never see this man again. Maybe Id let him kiss me. And as I walked down the street that night with him, I skipped. And he liked me that much more.
Sheri. The heat of Arizona smelled like burning flesh. I met your roommate, your friends, drank at the Coffee Plantation, iced mocha coffees. And I met you-know-who, I still dont want to say his name. He kept me occupied, no, he made me feel alive, alive to someone who had never lived before, alive those long five days. I could still mark the day on my calendar, the day my life was supposed to change, the day I was supposed to be free. But it was supposed to be something good, I was supposed to start caring for myself. Then why does a part of me regret it?
He bought me a rose the day I left. And you took pictures of us. I thought that morning that it would be justice to never hear from him again. To leave it at that. But then I had to call him from the airplane on the trip home. Why?
Joe. You had to be cruel to me, just this once. I thought we had been through enough, went through our own little hells already because of each other. I know we had our differences, but I was looking forward to seeing you, to seeing southern California, the stores, the glamour, the beaches, the commercialism. And you, you had to cart me away with your religious troops to the wilderness, leaving me at a campsite while you went off to church. And I sat there for days, watching us, watching us become bloodthirsty, we were trying to hurt each other, we were like animals, you starting your life with me in tow.
And I saw the redwood forests.
Douglas. I never imagined how beautiful the east coast could be, rolling hills curling one state into another. Wed drive up a hill in your truck and I would lift my head, my chin as high as I could in anticipation to try to see the other side, the sloping down of those hills. I remember walking along the beach in Maine, restored buildings lining the rocky shore, the fog so thick you couldnt see fifty feet in front of you. And people were suntanning. And I photographed the lighthouse - how do they work in the fog like this? Its so thick, thick like the cigarette smoke coming from the inside of your truck when we would drive to antique shops in New Hampshire. Thick, like a powerful force overcoming someone, that holds you there, that doesnt let go. Like us.
A week before the smoke and the hills I was in the Midwest and my father was screaming at me, two weeks before I was thousands of miles away dreaming of someone else. And it wasnt a month ago when I was skipping past the old Kennedy house, where movies were made, where this all began. And now, in this truck with you, I lean back, watching the scenery traveling past me streamline into blurred lines of color, and I think of marriage. Maybe with you, if time wears on, but probably not, I just think of marriage, to someone. Marriage, streamlining life into a blur. Settling down. Settling. Its funny how your surroundings change you.
And soon, I know, I will go back home, carrying my possessions in a tweed bag with duct tape on the handle, to get back to something. Driving through the plains to go back to life, it will all be the same again.
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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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