The mouse hovers over your name. I think about letting my finger drop but what would I say? So, I don’t. I click the screen closed and I turn the music up.
The city is amazing. Everything I could have hoped for. I master the transit system, almost. I walk for hours until the balls of my feet ache from my cowboy boots. A white peasant skirt rustles against my bare knees and I feel pretty when strangers smile at me. I settle myself in Pioneer Square, freshly squeezed lemonade by my side. I am careful to keep my knees together and let them fall to the side. I gather my purse in my lap, prop my chin on my fist, and flip to the earmarked page in my book. The prose is overwrought and decorated. I get lost in it and have to retrace my steps, pick up the plot line and follow it again. I look up occasionally, take a sip of my drink and chew on the straw. A guy crosses the square, staring at me. I watch him wondering if he is the person I am here to meet. Double take. No. I feel silly so I turn back to my book as he climbs the steps next to me. I am determined not to be seen.
He finds me like he said he would. He introduces me to the Yellow Line. We ride and he watches my face as I ramble on somewhat incoherently. I am nervous to make a good impression. I am out of my element. He traces the train line on a transit sign and explains something I’m sure would come in handy later, if I were paying attention, but I am too nervous to hang tight enough to his words, they slip between my fingers and then he is smiling at me and I am chasing the end of his sentence. His face is built for smiling. His eyes crinkle at the edges. Below the nervous energy buzzing in my ears I begin to feel at ease.
He takes me to a coffee shop. The space reminds me of tree houses we used to build in the woods surrounding my childhood home. When we would collect abandoned furniture and wood. Haphazardly constructing a club house lean-to. Rope ladders and protruding nails. I feel like I could tell some secrets here. Far from prying eyes and gossip. I order a cafe latte and he pays. He gets a strawberry soda and I laugh at him until he makes me try it. Fizzy and delicious. I feel my mind storing this memory away. I know that any taste like this in the future will transport me back here. It makes me smile.
We settle ourselves in the corner and it’s weird and it’s a little awkward but it’s also exciting and fine and perfect. He keeps track of the time and when it gets close to three he says we better go, better get me back to the square in time. I feel like Cinderella, just a little. We walk and he finds me a city map. I unfold and fold it up again. He takes me back to square one and we sit together waiting for a green or gray or blue truck; I can’t remember.
He makes me laugh even though I think I’m being stood up. My phone is dead. I wait for a half hour and then I give up. He suggests a snack and I say pizza and I’m thinking how maybe everything is working out for the best when a black truck drives by and the bubble bursts. A hasty hug goodbye and I am climbing in the passenger seat.
Driving to Vancouver with a fuming man beside me I think how great that slice of pizza would have tasted.
Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)