"Hi, uh, hello."
"HI! Oh. Wait. I'm sorry. Do I know you?"
Those are the occasions that stick. They tend to linger in your mind like lurking decay. When you least need them they pop to the forefront of your thinking to remind you why you think you're a failure, or a spaz, or any other myriad reasons to hate yourself.
"Actually, we've never met."
"Okay. I just thought maybe... there's something familiar. I don't mean to sound all like beyond the beyond or anything. You know?"
"No, I totally get you."
My friends keep telling me, well, one friend in particular keeps saying things like, "The instances in life anyone would change given the opportunity are usually the most important to our development. Granted, we'd all change whatever we wanted whenever we could. The sad fact is we'd only end up changing ourselves and not necessarily for the better." I say it's worth the risk.
"I saw you from the other side of the room. I hope that doesn't seem creepy."
"It does, but I don't mind."
"Good. Then you won't care if I invite you to my basement."
"Kidding. I'm kidding."
Mistakes are invariably unwanted. There isn't a person alive who wants to amass some grand total. Even people with vaguely Eastern philosophies, wherein every mistake is a lesson, don't care for slip ups. No one cares to error... like right there. I'd rather I hadn't said that. But case in point, it remains.
"Sorry, I have sort of a weird sense of humor."
"No, no. It's okay. I have pretty decent skin. It makes sense you'd want to skin me, wear me around town."
"It's more than decent. I'd say it's just pretty."
I know I'm getting a bit, I don't know, preachy? It's just that... I don't know how else to explain this without being blunt. I don't know. I've never been much of a story teller. But you knew that. Once.
"I don't usually do this --"
"Talk to people?"
"No. I don't usually just come right up to... women."
"Cuz you're in to guys."
"You're making this easier and harder at the same time."
"Well, I have a few gay friends. I know how to treat them."
"Cool. However, I'm not gay."
"That's kinda what I'm hoping."
I wish I had the eloquence to come right out with details about that crappy shoebox we lived in on Belden where we spent long hot summer nights painting crude murals on the walls every other week because we couldn't afford TV, putting down a layer of whitewash on Thursday then ordering a pizza on Friday as we let ourselves just slop paint any which way seemed fun till all of a sudden we'd have these eerie, grand, absorbing landscapes, or dreamscapes even, running sometimes from one to two to three walls; we made our own little universe in the middle of the city. It was just you and me, and there didn't ever have to be other people in the whole wide world.
"If that's what you're hoping then maybe we could grab some coffee."
"Not really a coffee drinker."
"Then how about a beer?"
"I like that you didn't assume I meant tea."
There used to be nights we'd kill the heat by cracking open cold beers, so chilled they had ice chips floating in the bottles or cans, and we'd stretch out in our underwear in front of a fan blowing across a bowl full of ice chunks, staring up at our murals telling each other what kind of worlds they depicted and the types of adventures the people in those painted galaxies were having. You always told the best tales. Like the one about the two kids lost in the black woods who came across a wolf who promised to make them immortal, only when they accepted the offer the wolf tore those kids to pieces and left the bloody parts near the kids' village so when their parents went looking for them they easily found the remains; and the dead children became a story people told for generations to warn other kids about going into the woods and the danger of wolves... I can't tell it like you could.
"Yeah. Sure. Why not?"
"If you can't think of a reason not to, I don't think I should tell you."
"Are you saying you've got one?"
"Ooookay. I'm going to trust you on this, uh, Mitch?"
"Pleasure to meet you."
Then one day it was all gone. I don't really remember what happened. Or maybe it wasn't just one thing but a lot of little stuff adding up over time until there was like this mountain blocking the view of any grounds for us to continue. Little mistakes adding up over time until they influence that one big mistake that turns into the final fight, and before I even knew what was going on your bags were packed and you were heading out the door -- goodbye forever. And my friends keep telling me there's nothing I can do except move on, maybe learn from what happened and not repeat myself the next chance I get with someone else. Only I can't see myself with anybody but you, so... I know a guy who knows a guy who can hook me up. I mean, it isn't legal, and they say nine times out of ten a person can't survive going through the aperture, that's why those things are usually only used to observe the past, but either way I'll get what I want.
"I know this place down the street I think you'll like."
"Five minutes of conversation, and you think you know what I'll like. I admire the confidence."
"Well, I feel like I've known you for years."
"Cheesy as it sounds, I get that same feeling. Maybe we knew each other in another life."
"Something like that."
"Then we're off to rediscover one another."
"So, Pete, what is your view on life?"
"I believe in second chances."