You turn me over in your head again about a year later. You accidentally dig me up in the backyard of your mind. But you hadn’t found an old picture of us in a desk drawer that you were cleaning out, the desk you’d since moved to your garage, the picture from our first road trip, still smiling and hooded in the back of a speedboat. It isn’t a letter, or a shirt. It’s not a memento. It’s the way your mind happens to work. Sometimes you’re just watching the way the sun lights up your living room and you find yourself thinking of somebody you used to love.
You almost laugh out loud, but then you realize no one’s around right now to hear you. You’re thinking it’s kind of weird that you thought of me now, with nothing to bring it up, no one said my name. When you stand up and walk across your house, into the kitchen, to pour a glass of water, you realize you’re still thinking about me. You don’t think about why we broke up. You don’t really remember why anyway, you just remember a deep sadness you used to get. You can remember a few shirts I used to wear. You remember how far my collarbone stuck out. You remember the way I kissed and how you couldn’t really explain me to your friends very well. But then you think about the sadness. You never told me about it, but as soon as you felt it, it sunk low into your soul. It made you cry once. It ran through your body, pumping down to your toes and all the way back up, and it told you I was meant for someone else.
You don’t wonder what I’m doing. You think it’s possible I moved to Costa Rica on a whim, but really you figure I’m still close. It’s Saturday. You wonder if I think about you still. You call me.
I’m awkward on the phone, until I make you laugh. You’d started to breathe quicker, but then you giggle and it’s loud and you’re relieved. We don’t talk very long. We say we’re gonna meet in the park and walk your dog. You say you had to walk him anyway and you could use some company.
At the park I see you from the other side. You wear a long flowery skirt and a solid tight t-shirt. You look cute. I try to wear something you might recognize. Your hair is a little longer. Your smile is persistent and genuine, and I struggle to dam a hundred memories around the edges of my brain. We hug and start to walk, your dog leading us and the conversation. Then we catch up. We tell each other a few things we’ve memorized about ourselves and what we do. We wonder if we’d said these peculiar words before. We both look skyward and then down. It’s silent for a little while but we don’t think much of it. Then I ask you a question and you smile wider than before. You have to wait to stop smiling a second to answer. You choose your words carefully and suddenly everything is easier. We can talk now. We sit down under a tree. We’re newer versions of ourselves but at least we’re parallel. We talk and laugh and ask questions we wouldn’t have thought to ask before. You’re more thoughtful. I’m more patient. We’re lying down now looking at clouds through branches. Time loses track of us, then comes back and taps us on the shoulder after about an hour. You remember you have to be someplace and we stand up piecemeal, necks, arms, backs, thighs, ankles, wiping off our knees and scratching where our skin touched the grass. You give me a long hug. One of us says that this was nice and the other agrees. We don’t see each other ever again, but we walk away happy to the ladders of our lives, now with stronger rungs to stand on.