I remember, but I don’t.
I’d like to say that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I ever ran into you on the street on a wintery afternoon, as the first snow began to fall.
I’d like to brush off that I might have known you that way. Shrug my shoulders and talk about something else, anything else.
I’d like to remember that night, but it’s a blur.
I do remember the embarrassing part, so I blush on the inside while I tell you the story of my uncharted journey between New York and California and back again.
You seem intrigued, as your chin is tilted with a wide a grin, but you don’t let on about that night either; that’s to say if I ever ran into you, again.
We’d act like grownups, as you tell me bits of your story. Censored, of course, just as I do the same, trying to recall that night. I’d keep on my black hat and purple gloves, so I would have an excuse for the flush on my cheeks.
We’d give a parting hug, longer than expected, if I ever saw you on the street; our chance meeting a bit of brightness on an otherwise gray day.
Yet I am sure that our paths are as divergent as our ways of being, despite a brief convergence on that night that I’d like to remember.
I do remember that we ran into each other at a party on that night. Loud ska music blasting, red plastic cups filled with local beer and we stood on the balcony, shaped like the love boat—we joked—while I told you about my recent breakup.
I’d remember your attentiveness as we talked. Clearly present in the moment—your eyes caught mine, a sparkle of laughter that I returned before looking away. We realized that we shared a common place where both of our brothers lived.
I’d like to remember the cops coming, breaking up the party, so we ran at first, then slowed to a stroll. You invited me to your place since it was nearby, and getting late.
I do remember that you acted with great respect—giving me a pair of shorts to sleep in—offering to share your bed with me, just as friends.
I’d like to say that I’m not blushing right now, but I am.
I’m still hesitant to write about that night that I wish to remember. I suppose that I could fluff up my memories. Indulge in adjectives.
I’d like to say that you rolled over me, straddling me, grinning and tickling me, beginning the dance to ecstasy. Our bodies meeting intuitively. Your lips near my ear, speaking words that I do not remember.
Sentences that I’d love to hang in the memory of my mind, like the prayer flags dangling across the windows in my house.
My lips were parched, so you brought me a glass of water sprinkled with the dust of magnetite. I sipped the water, letting the magnetite settle into my bones, so that I’d be pulled toward your compass. I’d like to remember if our lips touched, sharing the softness of water.
Somewhere in that edge of night before the dawn’s light, we fell asleep for a few hours.
We awoke, cuddled together—two kindred souls, but not lovers.
You grinned at me with your quiet mischievous smile. I do remember feeling shy, slightly surprised and rolled out of the comfortable embrace. You climbed out of bed, I imagined off to the kitchen to brew coffee—a new delight for you.
Changing back into my jeans, pulling on my sweater and lacing up my black combat boots, I’d like to say that I remember your room, but I can’t.
I do remember walking toward the bathroom, feeling the grogginess of too many beers mixed with delightful conversation, yet the moment of possibilities suddenly disappeared.
I’d like to say that I don’t remember surprising you in the bathroom, but I do.
I opened the door to see your bare bottom sitting on the cold porcelain toilet seat. I suppose that I could have made a joke like “thanks for warming the seat.” But, for some of us, those jokes come with the wisdom learned as time passes as we find familiarity, the ease that comes with intimacy.
As cute as your bottom was for me, I wasn’t quite ready to know you on the toilet seat level—I wanted to explore your other places first.
I’d like to believe it was your roommate sitting on the toilet—not you—so my haste may have been unnecessary. Yet I slammed the bathroom door shut, rushed through the kitchen where I smelled coffee brewing before slipping out the back door.
We saw each other in class a few days later—each of us not quite sure what to say—so we spoke of common ground like forest ecology and strata. We fell back into the rhythm of being classmates.
Being my adventurous self, I left the Pacific Northwest a few months later, returning to the dry winter of the Sacramento Valley. I’d like to say that I remember giving you a good-bye, but I can’t, yet I probably did.
Perhaps if I didn’t walk in on you in the bathroom that morning, then I’d have the courage to stay for a cup of coffee. Sit with you at an old kitchen table, as the morning sun came in the eastern windows. I would’ve asked you for honey and milk. Sweet and rich in the bitterness, but I didn’t.
For that, I am sorry.
Yet knowing that you sprinkled magnetite in my water that night, I imagine your path will run tangent to mine, eventually they’ll intersect, so we can laugh about the silliness of our youthfulness.
Then again, our paths may never converge, so I am safe in writing these words about that night I wish that I remembered.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
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