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Reunion

by Alan Dunlop (borrowed from http://torontocameraclub.com/cc/crdig0206/index.htm)

I knew you a long time ago. Life happened and we parted, but still you remained with me. You visited me in my dreams, asleep and awake. At the end of my wits about you, I decided to effect a reunion.

You were always the homely type, so I guessed you wouldn’t have strayed far from home even after all these years. Family meant more to you than anything else – even me – back then. It’s rare that values like that change after a certain age unless catastrophe strikes.

After searching for you the first image I came across was one of you looking down into the camera from above, smiling that smile. You weren’t stunning, but only God and the ones you’ve been with since me know there’s something irresistibly infectious in you. I wouldn’t call it personality or charm because it’s more than those concepts. I’m even tempted to say it’s who you are in spite of you.

Back then that smile was the harbinger of intense love and unbridled passion. Now, whenever I picture it, it sets off a firecracker of memories where each little spark is a wish that I’d acted differently back then. It’s not that you were a constant angel and not culpable, but it’s me, not you, writing now; me and not you who still dreams and lives in the past.

[Through my powers I arrange to meet you. Fate, unfortunately, is about as generous with me now as it was back then, in terms of you. I send you a note in the morning on the day we're to meet hoping to break the ice that's accumulated over the years.]

Who would have known this note would be the unraveling of this episode.

[You come. It’s cold outside and there’s snow on the ground. We meet at the bus/train station. Many hours of mental preparation have gone into this moment from my end. First of all I had to drive many hours to get to where you are and I used to be. When I get there, I debate whether to take the train to meet you or whether to drive and risk getting stuck in traffic. My character doesn’t betray me, and in a high flight of fancy I weigh the pros and cons of both options:

Train: I can listen to music and keep myself distracted. I’ll be fairly certain to arrive on time. The downside is that we won’t be able to go anywhere if we desire to.

Car: I’ll be driving which I like to do, but I might get stuck in traffic. But – and this is where my imagination always carries me away – what if we find something that wasn’t lost even after all these years? What if we create a moment and need a space to see it through? We’ll have the backseat of my car. Even if it’s not the same car I had then that we were in last time, at least the dimensions and layout are reasonably similar. Even if I’ve aged and you haven’t, the smells of the two bodies are what they used to be.

I decide to drive to meet you. I arrive before you do, as was always the case. It’s a little after six but it’s pitch black. We’re to meet outside, in the cold. It’s an ugly place, the train station. Nothing about it pleases the eye or heart, and as I wait in the car I wonder how you, being so beautiful, acquiesce to travel through here every day. Doesn’t it dampen your day to pass through something so detestable? I put myself in your shoes as you go to work in the morning, and I feel less pretty going through this train station. The throngs of people are annoying to me, and I wish for beauty and for space.

I step outside the car and breathe in the cold air. I see someone I think is you walking down a ramp. I want to run to you to make sure you don’t find ice and end up falling. Thankfully you make it down without incident. I haven’t seen you in years.

You look stunning. Short straight hair just covering your neck. You never had this look before. In the height of winter you’re wearing a black top that reveals your shoulders. In two separate centers of my body I feel opposite emotions. Again I think you look stunning, but I’m also stunned as to what possessed you to dress so incompletely for this unforgiving cold. Maybe you did it for me. I like that thought and I keep it in the forefront of my mind.

I never saw you like this before. You look like a woman. It’s a man’s world but up till the point of violence it’s a woman who controls a thousand men. Every man would want you right now. You’ve changed so much but still you’re the same in your irresistibly infectious something. I can’t put a name on it.

But as I walk toward you, as I see that smile that I forgot not for a second, I lose all my air and my feet slow to a crawl. I recall your reply to my icebreaker from earlier in the day. The note I received back said: Me and Sabian are teaching at Kasiming High School and doing just fiberly… (You wrote an entire letter but I stopped reading at this point.) Now I don’t pick apart the grammar the way I did when I read it. (First of all, it’s Sabian and I. And fiberly? Is that even a word?)

The note crushed me with its unassumingness as soon as I read it. I focused on what couldn’t hurt me in order to remain standing. Your grammar is elementary. How can you be teaching others? What kind of name is Sabian?

I find Kasiming High School. To deepen the theme of my voluntary ruin, the place where you and Sabian spend every day together is less of a building and more of a glorious castle. I picture with longing the castles we visited in.

But now, with my feet dragging the rest of me along toward you, I know it’s lost. I probably shouldn’t have driven. We both might as well turn around and pretend this night didn’t happen. This cold night in this ugly place, where we risk falling with every step because it’s so dark and nature’s strewn ice everywhere.]

Sabian found my goldmine and decided to build built a house on it.

1 Comment

  1. Heather
    January 16, 2007 at 12:50 am

    so i’m a little tipsy right now but i was not when i talked to you earlier. i just thought this story was great. i think the ending was perfect. in that moment when you realize everything was not what you hoped in the back of your mind it might be, this is how it feels. pretend it didn’t happen. i love it.

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