Wednesday, December 24, 2008


K has been thinking of baby names. (She's extremely pregnant.) She asked me if I thought my life would be different if my name was different. I said it would. A minor change in one's life, at birth or any age, gets magnified over time. Set a ramp at a small angle off the ground. Take a few steps up that ramp, and you're a little bit off the level of your previous path. Walk up that ramp for a few years, and you'll be pretty far from your original ground-level course. Putting that theory into words and saying them out loud made me think about what I had learned the day before. I may have learned too much, or maybe just thought about it too much, and the next day I started walking east through the slush. I knew exactly where I was going, and I was writing this story in my head along the way. It didn't occur to me that I'd be walking past Marc and Dave's old place, and when I did, I checked to see if their names were on the ragged intercom by the door. They weren't, and I'm not really sure they ever were. I walked past the diner that made the doughnuts. It's not there any more, and I'm not sure exactly which adult store or fast food chain outlet now occupies its address, but I know I walked by it. I walked some more, rewriting the story in my head with subtle changes that would have grown into mountains or whole other lives this many years later. Bleaker Bob's is still here, and so is Music Inn. A subtle change in what I said. I couldn't quite remember which corner The Bottom Line was on. A slight change in the things I did. Who I did them with. I made sure to walk up Broadway to get there, because that's what I always used to do. I guess I did it that way to make it look less planned how I would just happen to be in the neighborhood. Maybe a small change in how obvious i was would have been enough to change the angles. I unceremoniously made it to the corner. The sun was breaking through the surrounding towers somehow, weaving and curving through, shining on the spot you'd sometimes be waiting, looking out one of those windows. Those windows I would sit and stare out once inside because I didn't have any of my own. I stood next to the phone booth I would use to call up in case you weren't looking out for me, and tried to see you standing there in that sunlight, on the phone with me, waiving down from the second floor. I didn't recognize you. I didn't recognize myself. I took a picture of that view. I'll hang it next to the one of Nikkie's leg, to add it to the things I must never forget, as something I must never let happen again. I crossed and walked past the lobby, and kept going. I almost got on the uptown 6 train out of habit, but I heard my old apartment building isn't even there any more. All these places and thoughts surrounded the you that's still here, somewhere, until now. And thinking about you will always bring back these thoughts and memories, but less so now than before. There's only so much room in my head, and you're being crowded out by the three little words I learned the other day; married, kids, Boston.


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