I want to write about the time I was bold and courageous or the time I was tender or the time I was a burnout junkie with no story at all. I want to write about the time I had long willowy legs and an elegant face with big warm eyes. The time I ran down the road in the night, a streak lit burnt orange in the black by streetlamps and stars, unbuttoned coat billowing behind me, running towards someone or maybe away and taking everything in, not just every sharp breath insular to myself but everything around me, every brick in the walls and every gritty brick corner of the cobblestone sidewalk or the smoothness of the tar road. I want to write about the time I was in a room full of people and felt everyone, connected and warm, or, better, the time I was with one person and felt that person was everyone and they felt it back.
Instead, I’m going to have to write about the times I’ve had. Like the time I got jammed in the plastic sliding door of the train. Or all the times I sat half-awake on the edge of the couch as we all just talked and laughed. Or the way snow looks when it gleams and sparkles under the midday sun or the way water catches light or the way eyes dart down when their owner has something to say that he doesn’t want to express or the soft downy coat under the smooth, otterlike outer coat of many midsized dogs. Or what it’s like to be anxious to show someone a story or play someone a song and how even if they don’t feel it they’ll still smile and come to dinner. Or what it’s like to sit next to someone on the train and find that they know my favorite things and will talk about them of their own accord, or, better, can sit there saying nothing at all and maybe I can just glance at them sideways a few times and feel warm.
I’m going to write about the time I ran down the street with my coat buttoned up, every sharp breath insular to me, to get to your building faster. There is burnt orange light above me, but the stars are dim in the city and I can’t feel the road’s texture under the cork bottoms of my shoes. That’s all right though, because there’s an odd comfort in how the air in your stairwell’s smell is a musty-clean sort of familiar, a combination of paint and dust and paper. There’s comfort, even, in the painfully bland eggshell walls, especially in the way the people inside crumble far less easily than they feel they will. I sit down on the couch, slide my feet out of my boots and cross them beneath me on the cushion, and pull out my notebook and pen.