That woman ahead looks so familiar.
It’s a humid morning, Sweat drips down the side of my face. I’m carrying my backpack though, so I’m getting a bit of a workout during my walk.
It took me ten minutes, but I finally overtook the woman walking the two dogs. She was tall and slender, wearing a hoody draped around her waist.
Could it be her?
I was embarrassed I couldn’t remember the last time we’d spoken.
No one ever loved dogs more than Lisa.
Her profile comes into view. It is her. I start to say something, but then I blink, and we are sitting on a bench on Chisholm trail. I must have surprised her, then blanked out a bit. It happens sometimes. At this age, a lot of new things happen. It is what it is.
“That was the best Indian vegetarian food I ever had.”
“I’m glad you liked it,” I said. It was a fond memory. She had visited me at work, and I took my lunch break with her at the Indian restaurant across the street from the massage spa where I worked.
We fall silent as we had always been prone to. Silence was never something that scared us. We were always comfortable with it; it never scared us; we relished silence. Two extreme introverts, we could pass hours with hardly a word. It was always a natural thing between us, like coming home.
Still, I’m bothered by my blanking out before. I think for not the first time about pressing my physician to order whatever tests might help me get a diagnosis of what might be going on in my head.
“What have you been doing with yourself? How’s the massage racket?”
I look over at her. Something I’m forgetting. But what?
“Oh, yeah. I’m still massaging. Once I get my Myoskeletal alignment certificate, I’ll quit that place, set up my own shop, and earn what I’m worth.”
She bends down and pets the bigger dog.
“Is that Blue?”
She nuzzles him and says his name.
“Yes, it is.”
“But didn’t he…,”
“Obviously not,” she says.
“He looks good. He seems happy.”
“I think he likes your music.”
“Oh, I guess I can turn it down.”
This whole time Coldplay has been playing and I had tuned it out.
I reach up towards my ears, but my earbuds are gone. When I tap my front shirt pocket for my phone, it is gone as well.
She sees me struggling.
“Just turn it down a little, maybe?”
“But I don’t know…,”
“Just think down. Okay? Try that.”
I think less and ‘Jerusalem’s bells’ comes in a little softer.
“You did it,” she says.
I’m alarmed that my missing phone hasn’t alarmed me more than it has.
We talk for either minutes or hours. It was always that way with us. We might have only talked for a minute. But we sat on the bench for a long time. That too is a surprise. With my lower back pain, I usually can’t sit for very long in one place. I’m ready to steal this wrought-iron thing. I glance down at the legs, expecting to see feet bolted into the concrete below. But there is no hardware holding it in place. In fact, there is no concrete either. The legs just morph into the earth below us. But Chisholm Trail is a concrete walk, a sidewalk. I guess they changed it at some point. As I said, at this age, a lot of things change and it’s always a bit jarring updating my reality map fourteen times a day.
“But I’m confused. When was the last time we saw each other? The last time I remember was at your…,”
“Blah, blah, blah. Let’s not rehash all of that. That wasn’t my finest day, you know, you thoughtless sonofabitch.”
Her profanities had always amused me. I could tell she meant none of them in any way other than a positive way. They were a love language for her.
“I’m sorry the massage thing didn’t work out for…,”
“Let it go,” she says, petting the smaller dog on her lap.
Stage four is such a dire landscape. Her doctor said no to massage therapy. Still, I might’ve pressed her into it. I had bought a stool after all.
You selfish bastard.
Alas, my self-directed profanities are never meant in any way other than harshly critical.
I shut my eyes, relishing the breeze on my face. It’s a perfect day.
I must have dozed off. When I open my eyes, she is still there. I thought she’d be gone. The dogs, Sunny and Blue, are gone.
None of this is what it seems.
“Is this heaven?”
Her laughter is immediate, raucous, infectious.
“Are you crazy, man? Do you hear harp music? Do you see angels?”
I shake my head.
“That’s funny,” she says. “Could you imagine us in heaven?”
“Besides which, we were a couple of heathens. Good God, man, where did we first meet?”
“At a yoga studio.”
And we’re laughing again.
It really is a spectacular day.