I Still Miss You, Even After All That Was Nothing

It’s undeniable that some time has passed between us. What little we did talk during then has held us together like the imperceptible knots tying strings of thread, being joined to continue knitting a blanket. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those knots, but they make little difference to what has brought us together again.

Sitting across from you, memories flood my mind. All of the things I had wanted to say become lighter shadows as the conversation unfolds. Each new drink I order gives me more confidence to say what I think. I know that I won’t say all that I want to by the time we part ways again.

While shaving before leaving my place to meet up with you, I stopped to look at myself in the mirror after cutting myself where my chin meets my neck. After wiping the bloody shaving cream away, I promised myself that I wouldn’t set up any expectations for tonight. I was going to just hang out with you and enjoy the night for whatever it might turn out to be. Seeing you now, sitting there, on the other side of the table, I want more from myself.

I can always use another drink. One of my several vices is a fancy for libations. Now seems like a good time for another; the conversation is starting to get stale. I’ve asked you about everything that I can remember about you, save for the one or two things I don’t expect to ever understand.

Most of what I remember about you are the stories I’ve told myself. Piecing together the nodes of information that I got from you, I created these wonderful stories. It was the stories that created the person who I want to see sitting in front of me. Whenever you speak, I’m listening for the parts that make my stories richer and deeper. Like an enthusiastic, fledgling writer, I’m hyper-aware, trying to get my next great idea.

When you laugh, even smile, at something I’ve said, this rush goes through me. I start to believe that we’re sharing something again. It’s as if you’ve heard me again and you understand what I’m saying. Some of the tension that’s built up inside me dissipates slightly. I get nervous that I won’t be able to sustain this level of conversation for the rest of the night.

I can’t remember what I was going to say next or any of the talking points I consciously blocked while taking the subway downtown to meet you. I purposely listened to loud, bass-heavy, aggressive music through my tiny earbuds during that short, four-stop ride. I left early so that I wouldn’t be late.

After this next drink that’s coming, I’ll ask you if you want to go dancing. If we go dancing, I won’t have to talk as much and we can just enjoy the music. We can share something that isn’t a conversation I’m having trouble filing away in my memory fast enough. Maybe I should excuse myself and use the toilet.

There you are. That’s the back of your head. Of course, you’re staring at your phone. People probably want to get a hold of you. I took my phone with me. I checked it to make myself look busy, but it’s been sitting out this whole time and we both know that I don’t have any new notifications.

“So, what’s been going on in your world?”

“No, I’ve been on a few dates but nothing’s really worked out. Ha.”

“We’re just going to step out for a minute.”

I miss this, sitting next to you. Through all the nerves, I feel comfortable here. It’s been a while since I’ve sat on a concrete stoop.

I just want you to keep talking. Keep telling me stories about the mundane and the remarkable things that have been happening in your life. I wish I had been there while it was all happening, instead of just pretending to support you after the fact. But, hey, I’m glad to be here now.

“Yeah, let’s go finish our drinks and then head to the club.”

“Don’t worry, I got this. Let me treat you tonight.”

“You’re welcome.”

None of the women I’ve met since we first met have made me feel this way. I’ve met some brilliant people and none of them…. It’s never hard to look them in the eye while telling them what I think like it is with you. I’m made embarrassed, nervous, or humbled by you. Whatever it is, I like what you do to me. I like how I feel when I’m around you.

I love the sound of your voice. That’s one of my memories. Hearing it tonight, I’m enamoured again. The way you speak, the things you say, the way your mouth moves, and just the sound you make when words pass over your tongue, teeth, and lips, all ring so beautifully in my ears. I don’t mind leaning in to hear you over the music. You don’t need to speak up so that I can hear; I feel like I can read your lips.

Dancing with you is so much fun. You don’t need to keep looking over at me for help figuring out what to do. Just dance. Just have fun. That’s what I’m doing. I like watching you move to the music. It makes me laugh.

I love leading you around the dancefloor. With the small of your back in my right hand and my left hand outstretched for you clasp, we stay together as we move. Our feet move in time, you twirl, your hair whips through the air, I pull you in, and you come back to me. All we do is go around and around, keeping time, losing our footing, coming back together, holding on to one another. The music keeps us together in a way that time hasn’t been able to.

“That was a lot of fun. Let’s do it again sometime. Get home safely.”

Sitting in the cab on the way home, everything is a little cloudy. I keep an eye out as we go through intersections, making sure that the driver is going the right way. I hold on to my phone, waiting for it to ring. It’s a quiet ride home.

When I get off the elevator, I start heading down the hallway to my apartment. I open the door slowly, ready to catch the cat as he tries to rush out. He looks up haggardly from where he is sleeping on the couch, uninterested in my arrival. I hang up my keys and my hat, put my bag down next to my desk, and then make my way to my bedroom. I crawl into bed, rub my forehead with both hands, laugh at myself, and fall asleep.

Everything is normal again. I still miss you, even after all that was nothing.

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