the future

I’ll Meet You Anywhere

Illustration: by Luci Pina

I don’t know exactly how to get us there, but there is a future where my head has found its way to your shoulder. It could be June in New York and we’re sitting on your stoop, watching my dog perk his ears in nervous suspicion at every person who walks by. Or maybe it’s an October in Ohio and we’re back on my rooftop, tipsy and taking in the relative quiet after I dragged you to your first and last tailgate party. It could be July in some seaside city whose name I mispronounced when I first suggested we take a trip there and whose name I’ve mispronounced every time since because I like the laugh you try and fail to cage in your throat when I do. We could be anywhere. We are electric with knowing we could be anywhere.

I’m sitting close enough to smell the cigarette smoke that halos you. Small bits of ash dust the front of your boots. You didn’t smoke before, just like I hadn’t rested my head on your shoulder before, but you do now and I do now. A car drives by with a song we both like leaking from its open windows. Electricity again: We could go to a club tonight, drink until we hear that song and embarrass ourselves on the dance floor. We could invite some people over for a house party and play the song on repeat as many times as we want. We could, we can, we could, we can, we could, we can. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with all the things we can suddenly do again.

I ask to borrow a cigarette and look right past your raised eyebrow until you hand one to me, then the lighter. What’s a little ruined air between friends? I think but don’t say; a nudge is enough. It’s nice to have our silence back. We’ve had to say so much. For a forever-long month of March, every single thing had to be spoken in order to be known. But the other languages are ours again. The eloquence of a softly punched shoulder, sips taken from each other’s drink to decide what to order next, awkwardly bowed heads in place of familiar names that suddenly, weirdly, permanently, are spoken in the past tense.

We burn through our cigarettes, briefly trying to forget some of what we now know. The stoplight down the block turns green. Time is returning to itself; it’s beginning to mean something again. I ask if you want to go to that bar, the one with that really hot bartender. “It closed.” You suggest dinner at that restaurant I wouldn’t shut up about. “It closed.” Fuck. The silence that’s been sitting with us like a third friend only draws attention to itself as it gets up to leave. We watch it walk down the sidewalk then disappear around the corner. The silence could be going anywhere. And we decide to do the same, thinking without having to say, Let’s just see what we find.

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I’ll Meet You Anywhere