Things About Me and You


You live in a city where there is music. You don't play, but listen. In bars, cafes, on streets, in beds. They crave listeners. You learned quickly. The U-Haul seat was still warm.

The women in your city are mysterious and know everything. You pretend you know nothing. It earns you things. I hate when you do this: I miss your minimal effort. You know things by the end of the weekend, but forget by the next time you are here. Three weeks, then five weeks, then occasionally. It's coming up on rarely. I live next door to your parents. It won't be never unless I move.

My iPod is devoted to girl singer-songwriters, some earnest, some angry. You scoff. You won't buy a ticket, but you listen when you are in their studio apartments, after eating vegan chili, drinking vinegary red wine. You listen when they sit barefoot, cross-legged, long, flowy-skirted, freckle-chested, tank-topped, delicate collarboned, performing for you.

When I think about moving, it is to your city. I wanted to move there before I met you. You took it from me like the thing you still call me. In your city, four pretty girls with guitars answer to "sweetest." I might move there someday.

I have known you for two years, since your parents moved into the condo next to mine. You complain about everything. The single bathroom, the twin bed with musty sheets, the time you heard them having sex. I don't say anything. I miss seeing my mom. I miss my dad.

You sleep in my bed instead of the twin. You discovered me on your first visit. You were the lucky one. If karma existed, you would not have generous, loving parents, a bartending job that pays more than most college graduates earn, that face. That face and its geometry. Symmetry of lines and angles, radii. Cheekbones, jaw line, mouth. Scientists have proven the obvious. You and your balanced face will always be luckiest. I like my crooked nose and the fact that I have to work for things. You made me realize. You are thanked enough.

You tell me about the pretty singer-songwriters. You tell me names, hair color, height, jobs, where they come from, birthdays. Some things about me that you know: I have brown hair, I am 5'6", I am a teacher. I have a cat, I am not a vegan. I wear jeans. Some things you don't: My birthday is September 21, I teach sixth grade. I grew up 20 miles from here. My mom moved away after my dad died. I have an older sister, but we don't talk much anymore. I used to play the flute, my favorite color is yellow. My favorite smell is toast. My cat's name is Martin. My favorite season is fall. I am learning to knit. I love bacon. I buy decent wine. I watch cooking shows, I support public radio, I play tennis.

I went on a date on Saturday. He is a veterinarian. My cat was sick. He gave him antibiotics. When he came to my place, he petted Martin, who did not run away. He didn't refer to him as "it" or push him off the couch. He likes my smile. He held my hand. His name is Daniel, he is 6'1", he doesn't play an instrument. He has brown hair, he is 29. He moved here recently from Houston, to be closer to his mother, who has ovarian cancer. He is an only child. He was sorry to hear about my dad. He asked some things about him. He is a better kisser than you.

He is a better person than you. He listens when I talk, even when it's not about him. He e-mailed the next day to say he had a good time. He smells good. You are rude to your parents. Your car smells like decayed apple cores. Your hairline is starting to recede in a different kind of math. You don't respond to e-mails. When you send one, it is one or two sentences of appalling spelling and grammar I have to fight myself from editing.

You refer to me by stale endearment. You walk a few steps away from me when we're out. We don't go out much.

I like good spelling and walking close. I like men who shower, even on the weekends. I like opera.

Daniel and I are going to the opera on Friday. Turandot. It's my favorite, after Carmen. We're going for Indian food before. He likes spicy food, too. We might play tennis on Sunday.

Your mom told me you're coming to visit this weekend. You'll be here Friday. She's making lasagna. She invited me over. I told her I have a date. She smiled and said "good for you, honey." I like when she calls me honey. I like your mom. Your dad, too. They take in my newspapers and look after Martin when I am away. Your dad puts air in my tires when he sees they're low. Your mom is teaching me to knit. They came to my school on Parents' Night. They loved my kids.

You do not have friends. You have text messages and big tips and willing girls. They disappear and are replenished. I hope they are always. You would be lost. You might look to me. You are not accustomed to being wrong.

I will love you for a little while longer, I think. I will think of you in your city with the singer-songwriters you make all the same. I will miss loving you some, then a little, then never. I will miss your eyebrows and that sweater. Your Boggle skills, your shoulders, your martinis. You make excellent martinis. You will knock on my door, ready to make martinis with my good vodka. You will knock again. You will be angry that I am not here. You will be thirsty and want a comfortable place to sleep. Go to a bar, a hotel. Revise history. Replenish and forget.  

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