This past Saturday, after an intense reference desk shift and hike through the moonlit dripping snow, I stood quite nostalgic on the train platform, preparing to attend a drag queen bachelorette party at an apparently well-known chinese restaurant/cabaret in Manhattan. I stood and thought long about the silence that surrounded me in the snow, and how to congratulate a friend on her new marriage. Instead of considering wedding gifts, I instead grew anxious wondering why she had done it, gotten married, decided to take the plunge, and leave behind us poor straggling souls in the dust of dating and all its woes. She and I are the same age: 28. My cousin just gave birth to a baby boy, and he’s only 25, which, seems old for the unwedded young parent.

I considered that marriage would have only been a possibility if my Saturn were in Libra, or if I were straight and married to my high school sweetheart (who I found recently on Facebook. He was the easy route that I had walked away from until I saw he has three kids and coordinating a divorce. They married shortly after graduation when I announced I was a lesbian, and she, pregnant). Images of this average American family of custody battles and weekend visits rested in my mind when a man, my height, but darker, with a very chiseled face began gallanting toward me, large smile, teeth exposed, arms spread for me to fall into them:

“Shawnta right?!” he pronounced my actual name, correctly, so I figured he must know me. “How’s your brother?”
That was a hint, but essentially, I had to reveal that I hadn’t the slightest clue as to who he was. Reading his good intention, I didn’t throw him off of the train platform and run screaming.

“Remember me, from Brooklyn College!” he recalled.

“Oh, what was your major?” I asked, trying to place his face.

“We didn’t have majors in high school!”

Thats when it came back to me. This person knew me over 10 years ago. He knew me when i dated Michael, when I was 16 years old and we rummaged the hallways in our small alternative high delinquent way. I was so full of spirit and life then. Talking to him now felt exactly the same as 12 years ago. We caught up from 7th Avenue Brooklyn to 34th Street Manhattan, I wondered, had I channeled him to this spot on this day?

It was a refreshing sight to see myself through his eyes, this person recognized me, and once knew me. He began telling me about his divorce, his career as a chef, his church community, and his European girlfriend, who he was extremely proud of. I told him that I was a librarian, and dated women, so he didn’t have to keep announcing his girlfriend, assuring him that my glowing stare wasn’t an attempt to follow him home.

“How old are you?” I finally asked. And in these words he actually said:
I’m 28! And I haven’t seen you in over ten years, shit girl, where has the time gone?!”

We exchanged numbers. And as I exited the train to transfer to a lower east side bound F, I thought about how beautiful he was, and how timeless we all are. Living in the same city but only running into each other during our Saturns. I wondered about time, and distance.

Only those who’ve known me long, know me well. It seems I strain to gain distance from these people, that, in the end, these people are actually my friends.

We are still around. All of us.

Yet as we grow, I feel the distance. And I sometimes cling onto her, sister distance, because she is the only substance we have together. Other times, I hate her, and wish she would go away, always crowding the space that is supposed to inhabit our mutual care for one another.

I’m not sure where she belongs, right now. She shortens her stretch, I loosen my grip. We seem to be ruled by her, sometimes, my friends and I.


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2 Responses to Distance

  1. Shauntée says:

    we are timeless. every once in a while i see a friend of mine from elementary school {nearly 20 years ago!}, and i am amazed at how time and distance weave themselves into our lives. she has 2 children, a husband, a family. she’s in the thick of what i consider adult life. i’ve always felt like not quite an adult, as if my spirit thought that adulthood would be a drag and decided not to go there. marriage, children, a home – these were all things that i vaguely felt a yearning for but could never place myself in relation to. in my daydreams i was a different person, which didnt necessarily scare me, but made me think that maybe i wasnt cut out for the role of responsible adult. then Saturn decided he would return, changing my perception of time, shortening distances.
    you’re right. we are all still around, and when i talk to my friend i see that we’ve grown together no matter our varied paths, regardless of distance or time.

    • Shauntée, the distance also resonates with time when you bump into a friend, more often than you would have in your everyday life. When that happens, it makes me wonder, why this person has continued to reappear, what it is we ought to learn from each other, or perhaps in our paths, we are meant, for this time, to keep them near. I am always appreciative of these friends, and the ways in which the spirits of place us in each others paths, constantly reconciling distance.

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