Today I leave Vancouver. By 10am, the sun is dazzling. Bright enough to burn away the clouds and reveal the mountains that surround this city. A week of rain, two days of sunshine. What do I care? Denver has mountains too. // The trip was worth it. // She was worth it.
I pack my bags, check out of the hotel, take some photos, and make my way to the airport.
Photos were significant today ... I took a ton of them. Tried to fill up the camera, but still ended up with extra space. (Funny how I used to avoid photos; now I treasure each one.) Spend most of the trip trying to burn the image of this city on my brain; knowing that the photos will help (the thought comforts me).
I must remember ALL of this. I look around for anything significant. I replay each frame in my mind. What the camera doesn't capture, I memorize and replay ... I cannot forget; I must not forget. Packing away bits of mental candy to help me survive the long year that awaits me. “Long journey ahead // prepare yourself // plan accordingly.”
The game continues. In my mind, I associate everything about HER with the city that surrounds me. Even now, the smell of Vancouver lingers in my clothes // <inhale> cherry blossoms and salt air. They remind me of her. Every nuance.
Almost forgot the autographs at her hotel. Convenient excuse to stop by. She isn't there. Poetic.
Sleeping on the plane, sort-of. Can't eat // can't sleep ... I think love-sick is a real affliction!! Don't they have medicine for things like that? // Wouldn't matter, since the boss cut our health-care benefits. // Remembering what it was like to NOT be love-sick. <sigh> I'll take the sickness, thank you.
Eyes closed. People brushing past me to get to the restrooms in the back of the plane. Why do Americans have such large butts? If one more person brushes past me, I'm gonna scream // not really. A large man with a ridiculously-tiny-navy-blue-bow-tie looms over me, waiting patiently until I open my eyes. "Pretzels?" he asks. // My stomach isn't up to it. Damned airline food anyway. 10 inches of leg room and a bag of pretzels, geez. // I manage to smile and ask for a Pepsi. He seems satisfied and moves on.
Don't need any headphones. My mind is still buzzing. Remembering her smile. Her eyes. Her lips. Her hair. What was that bodice-thing she was wearing? White yes, but what was the pattern? Roses or strawberries? She wore it two days in a row - better get that one right. Clear today, but details like that will be tough to remember in a few months. Replaying her memories again; her Glare. I think I saw most of her emotions. Smiling, Laughing, Angry, Interested, Concerned, Entertained, Taunting, Playful ... Drunk.
Wishing I'd kissed her. Remembering our last moments together. Holding her. Why didn't we kiss? // It just didn't feel right. // Mixed messages. Three times she sought me out, twice she pulled away. // I can't kiss a girl that might be too drunk to resist. I've got a code. I want to know that she wants me too. What if she wanted me to? Agonizing the details.
The plane lurches. Turbulence. Will I die before I wake? // Imagining the plane spiraling toward the ground. What would I do? Option 1 - throw wounded passengers out of the burning wreckage to my son, who will be waiting on the ground. We save all that we can. I go back inside one last time to get the crying infant from aisle 13, and toss it through the burning flames. I yell one last message to my son, "carry on - you are the man of the family now". Fade image into newspaper headlines. "He was a hero". // Option 2 - The scene is total carnage. Nobody survives. With my last dying breath, I reach forward with a bloody finger to scrawl a message on the ridiculously-tiny-off-white-beverage-tray-table that is crushing the life out of my lungs. "Tell her I ... “ – no, can't say that; too soon. “Bury me in Vancouver." Fade to black.
Plane levels off. Back to the moment. Yes - - the elevator. Holding her. <sigh> She leans into me. Stiff at first - tense. I wrap my arms around her, feeling her energy. Then it happens. All of a sudden, her body is soft. She is limp in my arms. For a moment we stand there, breathing. Surrender? Yes, or else she was drunk, and I was dreaming. Then the elevator - pushing - closing - trying to stop the moment. Damned machines. Why are we on the elevator? I want to stay here forever. // Breathing. And then the moment ends. The elevator wins. I am outside. She is inside. Time to let go. // I wish I had kissed her.
We land in Denver. Everything goes smoothly. My dad is at the Airport - he's always been pretty good at the psychic stuff. "Thanks for getting the message", I say, as we head toward the car. (Of course. I never called; he just knew I would be there). It’s a game we play. Right again.
Dad is doing well. Another wedding today. Business is good. Can't join us for dinner, but he'll take a rain-check. He transfers some belongings from my car to his, and I look him in the eye, "Dad - I met someone in Vancouver ... special ... it could be real". He studies me for a moment and smiles warmly. "It's good to see you this way, son ... don't sell your house just yet ... enjoy this feeling for as long as it lasts." // Oh yeah, I intend to.
As the sun sets, I look westward to the mountains and predict tomorrow’s weather. "Looks like we're going to get some rain, maybe a lot." And then it dawns on me. This is probably the same rain-system that started in Vancouver last week. // Funny, that's how the weather patterns work in the winter. Starts in the Northwest, and travels Southeast to reach Denver. // So these are the very same clouds that rained on she and I, and now they are right here, in my home town. (I smile to myself.) They are part of it now; part of the memory. // When it rains for the next several days, I will be smiling the whole time. I love the rain – well, THIS rain, anyway. // It reminds me of her.
Sleep will be difficult. Her memory is strong.