It was a particularly warm summer evening when I met Alice. There she was, in a black tank top and black tights, overdressed for the muggy weather, backpack resting on the ground; shy, calm and flustered. We embraced each other in the knowing way strangers do. Fifteen years younger than me, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to turn out. Responding to Alice’s message was my way of trying to be open-minded and anti-ageist. My hypothesis that Alice was really a middle-aged lunatic, possibly a murderer pretending to be a teenager, was emphatically proven untrue.
Our shuffle and small talk turned into an easy gait and unencumbered conversation, while we walked through the Brooklyn piers. As dusk approached, the sun hid behind clouds, the sky grew a pale blue, somber; across the river, Manhattan let out a sigh.
Alice is vegan, which threw a wrench in my hopes of eating at Shake Shack, but we course-corrected quickly and found ourselves tearing bits of injera with our hands, mopping up misir wot. At home we sat on either ends of the couch, talking, not quite comfortable, eager not so much hoping to transcend the uneasiness as letting itself play out, waiting. In our own separate lives, we navigated different physical spaces, different morning rituals, and different people, yet we recognized that we inhabited the same reality – that of simply existing.
Our bodies wrapped around each other, rhythmically shifting between embrace and words; anticipation lurked in the air, and tomorrow was already here. What was today going to be like?
We ate avocado toasts topped with ripe Jersey tomatoes (what a lovely idea), we caressed, drank coffee and hot chocolate, and marched into Manhattan. Falafels consumed, sated, our sleep-deprived bodies maneuvered tourists on the High Line before we found ourselves drinking coffee and juice in a semi-wakeful state. That night our naked bodies curled around each other, her skin soft on mine. The night felt familiar, the air lighter; we melted into each other.
We ate avocado toasts topped with the same ripe Jersey tomatoes, took turns taking shower and getting dressed, and drank coffee and hot chocolate. We were going to read, but instead I watched her watch, I listened to her lips; I peeked into Alice: present to the world without needing to preclude any ignorance of it. Her touch tingled; I lost a bit of myself. Alice is in my life.
I woke up, ate half a banana, did some pushups and squats, stretched, took a shower, got myself clothed, ate two soft-boiled eggs, wore my watch, put my shoes on, picked up my tote, phone and keys, closed the door behind me, and paraded on to default world.