When she talks to me about the weather I’ll wonder whether her mother spent her Sunday mornings trying to cook pancakes in the shape of stars, or if her mother was too tired from spending her Saturday nights lining up Monday’s clothes like paper dolls across the beds of children whose names she’d forgotten how to match to their futures.
When she asks for coffee I’ll think maybe she doesn’t like pancakes anyway. I’ll watch the way she holds her coffee cup and decide she probably didn’t like dolls much either. Maybe she wanted a treehouse, but after spending that night in the one her father built when she was nine maybe she doesn’t like trees anymore. Or houses.
As she stirs sugar into her coffee I’ll think about her first slumber party, wonder about the first time she played spin-the-bottle in a room of all girls. I’ll wonder about the first time her womb did a somersault. I’ll try to envision the eyes of the first best friend who ever left her, wrap my mind around the first lover who made her want to change everything about herself just so he wouldn’t go.
(When she asks if we should get going I’ll say stay. Just a little longer.)
When she cuts her muffintop like a pie into six almost-equal parts, I won’t be surprised she saves the biggest piece for last.
When she says she doesn’t care about politics I’ll ask what her father did for a living. I’ll translate her segue into lipstick into his never doing much of anything except cheating on her mother and eventually dying of heart problems.
She’ll ask which shade of pink I think goes better with florescent light, and I’ll squint a little to make her think I’m thinking it over. I’ll choose the one in her right hand because that’s the hand she writes with, shakes hands with, opens doors with.
(I like the way she makes decisions despite that I think she’s prettier without makeup, but I won’t tell her any of this.)
When we leave the restaurant I’ll let her be the one to go first. I won’t hold the door for her, even though that would be the polite thing to do, because I’ve made up my mind she’s the kind of woman who wants to be in control of her exit strategies.
(This is what I do. I look for holes to fill.)
When we say goodbye she’ll hug me tighter than I hug her. She’ll think it’s because I’ve perfected the art of letting go, but I haven’t. When she’s gone I’ll miss her more than she’ll miss me.
Originally published June 24, 2004