Kelly's back. She flew in last week from Cleveland and solicited my folks for my cell phone number. I met her on Tuesday and told her I might see her again the next time I'm in St. Paul, which won't be for a while, but she doesn't care, I know. Kelly does her thing regardless. So do I. We both pretend we don't care much about each other, and we're both lying, but that's what needs to be done. Because that's what keeps us remembering the past so fondly and from realizing the present too harshly, too starkly. It's human nature.
She looked good, boy. Time isn't kind to the fairer sex, and she had some wrinkles around her eyes, some stout to her legs, sure; but underneath she was still Kelly, still that fiery red head who drove men wild, myself included. Then and now. Her makeup was a little off, and her brown eyes looked sadder than I'd ever remembered them -- almost yellow, in fact. Empty somehow, like tears had diluted them and washed away her passion. But she spoke in that familiar Kelly twang, walked as confident as ever, and she made me reminisce about how we used to be fourteen years ago, when we were seventeen years old.
Fourteen years is a long time, and I'm sure Kelly saw similar changes in me. I suppose I fidget a lot more now than I used to, smoke cigarettes a lot more than I did back then. My hair has a touch of gray, like I've been sitting around a campfire and tiny ashes have touched down hither and thither over my head. In a few years, those ashes will resemble fat snow flakes, I'm sure, and my own blue eyes will look as faded as an ancient pair of dungarees. I've managed to stay relatively thin, but I'm growing increasingly conscious of my increasingly flabby belly, which, despite my slender frame, sticks out and makes me look, in profile, like a lower case 'b' or 'd,' depending upon which way I turn.
We were equally depressed after dinner at the prestigious Kiki's Grill, and it wasn't because of the food, which was splendid. It was because we knew we'd probably never see one another again. That's when the evening took on a somber mood. I clammed up, and she followed suit. I saw Kelly off in front of the restaurant, where she got in a cab. I wished her a pleasant trip home, but I didn't kiss her, on her lips or her cheek. I simply waved goodbye and smiled. Like a fucking moron.
I want to call her up, hear her voice again. Things can never be the same between us -- fourteen years is an impossible gap to close -- but that was a poor send-off, and it was all my fault.
It was all my fault.
I know that now.