I met a man at the beginning of the summer who taught me so much about myself. About things that make me angry, mostly. Fiery, the good kind. The excerpt above was written mid-May when we met. The first thing I ever wrote about him. And now, I think I'm ready to tell you about the whole thing.
...In June, I went to Boston on business. I didn't write anything down about the trip because I wanted to really be there. Snapped a few pictures, but nothing of real note: A panorama of the city against an amber flood of sky. A backlit photo of an incline, apartment balconies saturated with citrus light. I watched him walk through the reaching of my lens as I shot the landscape. The rhythm of the city encircled me. He stood grid-center watching the clouds shift around the buildings. Kept saying, "I want to mold myself to city life soon." I smiled, repeating the eighth month of the year over again in my mind so it would sink in deep. Tried to convince myself that it wouldn't jar me when it came.
We walked along the water front in the dark. His navigating was effortless. There were glass bottom dinner cruises sailing under the green light of a nearby fishing dock and I can't imagine the appeal of a glass bottom boat in the Boston Harbor, but middle age men and women crowded around the center, danced to polka music in the cool summer evening, and it all lit me up in ways I can't explain. I don't remember what we talked about on that forty minute walk, but I remember the way he was so pleased with just being there.
"Some people, you know, don't like to wander around foreign cities aimlessly like this. It's like they always have to have a purpose. Somewhere to go."
"Well, not me," I said.
"Good. Me neither," he said.
He ordered Swordfish at a restaurant with no name. And I want to be clear. This isn't the use of poetic license to romanticize the restaurant. The small seafood eatery on the wharf seemed to belong to no one.
"Do you want a bite of this?" He said something about how he'd never tried Swordfish and that on a waterfront in Boston seemed as good a time as any.
I smiled, "Sure." He cut a small piece of velvety fish that fell, steaming, onto his utensil, lifted his fork toward me. I came at his plate with my own, chewed for a moment, hand cupped over the side of my mouth. "Delicious."
Walking back, I used a word incorrectly.
"Huh. Apocalypse. What about all those lights in the building remind you of an apocalypse?"
"I used the wrong word. I meant to say eclipse. Like when the sun eclipses the moon? Or, maybe it's the other way around. I'm not sure." And I wasn't. I had no idea what I was talking about and we both knew it.
"Okay, eclipse. Lunar, solar--who knows," he shrugged his shoulders, hands in both pockets as we walked along the edge of the sky line. "Should we grab a taxi to the station? It's getting late." We looked around. A few cars buzzed around us, but no one was on the street.
"I think we can walk," I said, trying to stretch my minutes.
"Sounds good to me," he said.
In a train that led us out of Boston, we sat together on a sloping bench near the sliding door.
"So, what made you decide to leave?" I asked.
He scratched the back of his head and raised both eyebrows the way my dad does when he's about to give me financial advice. "Uh," he breathed, "I don't, uh. I don't really know, actually," he shrugged, "Sorry, that's not really an answer. I just--I don't have anything tying me down at home, and I got this job offer that would've been too hard to refuse. So, I took it," he paused for a moment, stroked his third day scruff. "And, uh. I guess I'm going." My forehead creased. "I think I just started realizing that I'm not going to be in this spot forever, you know? Like, I'm twenty-four. And I love the city, so I'm going for a while. To get it out of my system, before, you know," he motioned with his hands, "a wife. Kids. Mortgage."
"Right," I nodded, "sounds like you know what you want."
"I love it back home, but--" The train door slid open, jolting us both. My curls, fallen from humidity, stuck to my lipstick. I looked up at him without regrouping.
"But you want to go," I finished. He nodded.
"I do. I just want to try leaving," breaking our contact, his eyes moved to the ground, "and see if I come back."
We stood up in unison and exited, leaving the conversation in the car, but I'll never forget it.