It was like a date. A boy and a girl eating dinner at a nice Italian spot near the Marina. They talk about work, his move to Boston, her siblings, getting hit on by gay guys, and other random things that come up. They laugh over silly things and give each other “looks” when their neighbors who arrived after them get their pasta dinners before they do.
“I’m going to miss you,” she says softly while they wait for their dinner.
“I’ll miss you too,” he replies. “But I’ll be back in December.”
She gets cold, so he suggests they switch seats so she can be near the heat lamp which makes him hot. Later, she’s still cold and he offers his coat. She gladly takes it, slips it on over her blue Puma hoodie and feels more comfortable. They barely eat any of the pasta on their huge plates. The waitress asks if they want dessert. She says no at first, but he convinces her that the mango ice cream is heaven. A few minutes later, the waitress comes out with their mango sorbet. They share and in between spoonfuls of the orange goodness that is mango sorbet, they talk some more. She has issues eating, and he has issues shopping.
It’s always like that when they’re together. They can talk for hours about anything and not feel bored. When they run out of words, they just look at each other quizzically.
They finish their dessert, pay for their bill head back to her car. A few steps into their walk, he asks, “What time are you going to meet up with your friends?”
“Not until later.”
“Lets go to the beach.”
“Okay.” She doesn’t want to leave him just yet for when she does, it will be for a few months rather than hours or days.
They stop by her car a few blocks away and leave their leftovers in the back seat. They begin their stroll down a dark pathway between buildings.
At the beach they trudge through the sand, look up at the gorgeous sky full of stars. They note that there are more out than usual in the city. Perhaps they came out for her birthday or to say farewell to him.
“Is that Mars?” he asks pointing to a bright orb in the velvety sky. “It’s supposed to be closer to the earth than it’s been in 60,000 years.”
They get closer to the water, avoiding pits some children dug out earlier in the day. The waves crash over and over again. No one is around, just the two of them.
“Why does it look like the foam on the water is glowing?” she asks.
“I have no idea. It looks like there’s a giant black light on the water.”
They continue walking along on the beach. She thinks, ‘this is so odd. It’s like if we were on a date, strolling along the beach at night.’ She wants to cuddle close to him, it’s still a little too cold. She has been spoiled all her life by mild California weather. She struggles to stay a safe distance away and walks a step ahead of him.
“What’s on the pier?” she asks.
“I don’t know, let’s go check,” he replies.
They head over to the pier. His nose is stuffed, as he’s a bit sick. The smell of fish hits her quick, but he doesn’t notice it. They seem out of place on the pier. Everyone around them is fishing. There are still some fish guts at the sinks on the pier. Ew. They find an empty spot at the circular end of the pier.
They notice glowing spots in the water and wonder what’s going on. He says he’s really glad that she’s there with him. “If you weren’t here, I’d think I was having a flashback from an acid trip or something.”
He’s close to her. She feels awkward in this pseudo romantic moment. She wants to kiss his lips and feel his long, thick eyelashes flutter next to her cheek. She wants him, but knows she can’t have him.
They leave the pier, go back to her car, get back on the freeway and return to where he left his car on campus. She tries not to think of the fact that this will be the last time she sees him for a few months. She tries to keep her mouth shut so she doesn’t say what’s on her mind. She’s only half successful.
She drops him off at the familiar spot where her day ends and begins on campus, lot 4, level p2. She’s done this half a dozen times before, but you can tell it’s different this time.
“This is starting to get dramatic,” he says before he gets out of her car. “This is going to be the last time I’ll be on campus for a long time.”
“I know,” she says. “But you’ll be back.”
The car stops, he gets out with his leftovers and puts it in the back seat of his mom’s SUV. He turns back and looks in her car, “See you later, Cindy.”
“See you later, _____. Have a safe trip.”
And with that they left each other.
Postscript: Written August 30, 2003 and kept under lock and key at the old blog since then. I ran into this friend yesterday for the first time in a few months. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m no longer hooked on him like I was back then. Our friendship has evolved, but it’s still the kind where we can spend hours together just smoking hookah, watching baseball, or talking nonsense about some abstract theory pretending we’re smart grad students. It’s all good.