Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another You

I look around me, on the street. My eyes stray from the produce in the grocery store. At the pump at the gas station, I am pumping my brain with questions. Could he be you? Could the next man I see be more wonderful than you?

My gut tells me no. The same way it told me when I was locked in the embrace of a tall, dark and handsome man who spoke a foreign language and wanted to take me to Costa Rica. He smelled of soap and cucumbers and he never wanted to leave. I tried hard to make him fit, to wrap my legs around his waist when he had me up on the counter, his hands gently stroking the bare skin on my back. When our tongues were dancing a quiet symphony and his hands dug into the flesh of my hips, I was praying for something that never happened. I prayed that he would turn into you.

After all, that's where you once stood, your body wrapped around mine like a scarf. I was making a cup of tea, and you were so delicately folded over my shoulders. I could feel your breath on my neck and I never wanted to stop making tea. I wanted to freeze time and just keep you there, next to me.

I've been running most of my life. Running from all the feelings and the closeness. Running from love and commitment and couplehood. Running from you. But there you were, next to me, and suddenly, the only thing I could think of was standing still.

The new man in my kitchen never made me think this. In fact, as he was probably dreaming of lifting me from the counter and dropping me onto my bed, I was worried that the whipped cream I'd just made would go flat. I wanted to slather it on the profiteroles I'd just made. I wanted something that was not him.

But if it had been you, I'd want to feed you a cream puff, then have you lick the whipped cream from my fingers. I'd purposely make some of it run down your mouth, so our mouths would taste the sweetness of the cream - and each other. I still taste you, even now.

And I wonder, as I look at the man in line in front of me at the DMV, if I would ever hold his taste in my memory. I'm 32 and I've never felt even half as lovely and full as I felt when I knew you. How can I expect another man to fill me that way? At this point, I'm not sure. I still date, but the hope isn't really there. It's just a way to pass the time.

But with you, time sped up. It was full of fireworks and rockets to the moon. We skipped through the moonlit streets, rolled around each other like cigars in the warmth of my bed, raced each other on the pier in front of Salmon Bay. We counted starfish the color of clementines and took trips through the country where the leaves looked like tiny pieces of the sun. I remember lying on the beach with you, our heads propped up by sweaters we didn't need. I asked you about your life, and you told me. You also told me you were growing attached to me. But...

It wasn't enough. You wanted something else. You wanted children and a house with a picket fence and PTA meetings and lollipops. That's not my dream. The only dream I ever had, and still do, is to keep running with you into the unknown. We may fall sometimes, but we could get up - together. I want to keep laughing and holding you there, under the moonlight.

The man next to me at the bank has your build. He turns to look at me, and smiles. I smile back, but inside, I feel nothing. Could he be you?


But I wish he was.

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