May 16

Statistics

One of the reasons I chose a business major in college was because I hated math, so I wasn’t particularly excited to take Business Statistics 101. It was, however, required for my major, and I suppose you can say I found solace in the fact that it was at least better than calculus.

It was, by far, the most boring one-hour period of every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, only made worse by the fact the subject matter was difficult for me and that I didn’t know anyone else in the class. A study group or someone to at least mull over homework with would’ve made my life so much better, but most of my friends were art majors or science majors that either had fewer or much more difficult math requirements.

The lecture hall for Business Stats was on the smaller side – especially compared to some of the gynasium-sized halls on campus – but there were still 150 seats. Not around, not about – exactly 150. I know because I counted.

At first, I sat in the front because I was hoping that would encourage me to focus on the lesson, but after a couple weeks of that and still getting a C on my first exam, I felt fairly discouraged and ended up sitting wherever I was drawn to for that particular class. I was never a “back of the class” type of person, but since this class took attendance and I was basically having to teach myself the material as best I could every time we were given homework, I stopped caring where I sat. I just needed the attendance mark next to my name and be a warm body in a seat until it was time to go to my much more interesting marketing class.

It was on a Wednesday that I first sat next to Kelly, or I guess, more accurately, I should say that she sat next to me. I had started habitually taking the end seat on the back row closest to the door so I could get out of the horrid class as soon as possible. Kelly happened to show up late one day and took the closest seat she could to the door to avoid be disruptive to the rest of the class, and that’s how we met.

“Sorry,” she said as she shuffled by and sat down next to me.

“No worries,” I said. It wasn’t like I was paying super close attention anyway. I had actually taken to using my time in Business Stats to do homework for other classes, that way I could use that time later to learn Business Stats. I know it sounds stupid, but the traditional approach had earned me a low C, and this approach had earned me a C that was one point away from a B on the subsequent exam.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kelly take her laptop out and start googling something that looked related to the class material. I don’t know why I found it so intriguing, but every once in a while I would sneak a peek of her screen, and it was always a some sort of resource that related to whatever the professor was currently discussing. She wasn’t taking notes, she wasn’t following along with his slideshow, she was just independently reading on the subject of the day.

I couldn’t make fun of the method though, could I? If that’s what worked for her, then more power to her. It was hard to blame anyone in that awful class for learning the material their own way.

Maybe I could try that method, but today wasn’t the day for that. I forced myself to look back at my own screen, which displayed an online assignment for my economics class that still somehow managed to be more interesting and easy to understand than statistics.

“Hey, is that the Econ 102 homework for Matheson’s class?”

“Yeah,” I nodded, unsure why she was talking to me.

“Are you in the 9:30 class?” she whispered.

“No, 10:30,” I said. I purposely didn’t schedule classes before 10 AM because I had trouble staying awake, which was a solution that I implemented in my second semester of college after I realized I was dealing with a problem that I had largely created for myself.

“Ugh, I wish I could switch to that one,” she said. “I practically have to prop my eyelids open to stay awake.”

I arched an eyebrow, because for a moment, it was like she’d read my mind.

“Yeah, that’s why I took the 10:30 class,” I said.

“Good foresight,” she said.

After that exchange, class proceeded as normal. When it finally ended, I left with a slight wave at her, and rushed off to Marketing 102.

My interaction with Kelly in that class is burned into my mind because I never talked to people I didn’t know in class except when we had to group up for one reason or another. Of course, at that time, I still didn’t know her name, but I did find myself wondering if she was in the same situation that I was in, and if she wanted a study buddy too.

Friday’s Business Stats class came, and Kelly showed up on time, but rather than picking one of the many other open seats, she once again sat down next to me.

“Hey,” she said. “I didn’t catch your name on Wednesday.”

“Eric,” I said.

“Well howdy Eric, I’m Kelly.”

“Howdy?” I flashed a smirk. “Are you from Texas?”

She laughed. “No, it’s just an affectation I picked up from an old friend. I’m actually from Virginia.”

“Oh, hey, I’m from Richmond!”

Her eyes lit up like mine must’ve just then. We were only a few states away, and like most universities, ours attracted plenty of students from out of state, but it still felt special to meet someone from the exact city you grew up in completely by chance.

We chatted for the seven remaining minutes before class started like we were old friends. It was strange how easy it was to talk to her, but when the professor stood in front of the class and started going through the motions that meant class was about to begin, I felt disappointed that we had to cut our conversation short.

Three more class periods went by that were bookended by conversation with Kelly. Over the period of just a week, I found myself looking forward to my least favorite class just because I wanted to talk to her more.

The entire weekend, I kept thinking about her, to the point where I began questioning if I was excited about her friendship, or if I was excited about the possibility of something beyond that. I didn’t know her super well yet even though our conversations proved that we had some sort of deeper-than-normal connection. And while I was single, I wasn’t sure if she was.

When I was in high school, I dated my best friend Kris for about two weeks before we shared a come-to-Jesus moment about dating having been a mistake. We just couldn’t understand why there were no sparks when we kissed, yet felt like we really liked each other. Turns out that 15 year old me and 15 year old Kris just didn’t understand that guys and girls can be friends.

That flash-in-the-pan of a relationship had laid the foundation for me that I still followed four years later in recognizing my own feelings. Sure, things hadn’t worked out in the two relationships I’d had since then, but for much different reasons. I’d dated four different people in my life, and the only time I never took a valuable lesson from a relationship was the very first one, which I probably shouldn’t even count, because we were in 6th grade. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain why I didn’t glean anything useful from a relationship that consisted of going to school dances and sitting next to each other at lunch, even if we called each other girlfriend and boyfriend.

I sensed that I was falling for Kelly, but to admit that felt like I was skipping all of the important steps that I always took to make sure I actually liked someone. The truth was that we’d had interacted for about an hour total, and to pretend that I knew her or think I could have feelings for her seemed silly. We clicked, and she was totally my type when it came to looks, but that didn’t feel substantive.

The Monday after that weekend, I woke up and told myself to stop being delusional about Kelly. She was just a classmate and nothing more. I drilled it into my own head over and over until I started to believe it.

Then Business Stats came, Kelly sat beside me, and my heart began to race.

Why? Why was this happening? I knew better in every sense of awareness to act on these strange feelings, but it was like the universe was out to tell me that I was wrong.

“Hey Eric, do you mind if we exchange numbers?” she said, not more than a minute after sitting down and getting situated. “It might be useful to be able to text about homework or whatever.”

My already thumping heart began pounding out of my chest, but I still managed to respond in what felt like a normal way.

“Yeah, sure.”

And just like that, I got her number.

It felt strange to have it come so easily, like this was some sort of cosmic joke. But getting her number was a privilege not to be abused. She’d said it was texting about homework, and there was no way I was going to take advantage of that by bothering her with idle chit chat.

Or, at least, that’s what I thought, until she did exactly that during class. Her phone number was connected to iMessage on her laptop, and since I used an iPad with a keyboard to do homework for my other classes, I was getting the text popups on my screen just like she was.

hey, it’s me, the girl sitting next to you
thanks for giving me your number

I glanced over and saw her flash a grin in my direction.

yeah, no problem, though i might not be much help in the homework department. i usually have to teach myself this stuff every night after class.

maybe we should study together then?

My heart went back into overdrive. I had never met a girl this forward. Hanging out with a new female friend had always been about reading the situation, finding the right way to ask that wasn’t pushy, and then, if I was possibly interested in pursuing something more than friendship, asking in a way that didn’t put all of my cards on the table and that also didn’t make her feel uncomfortable.

Navigating the politics on a new friendship even with guys had always been difficult for me, but Kelly had completely taken the reins on this one. Of course I wanted to hang out with her, even if all we did was discuss graphing bell curves or whatever the hell the professor was going on about.

sure, that sounds like a great idea

Cool, my place then around 7?
i live right off campus

What in the world was going on? I was practically a stranger to her, right? How was she not uncomfortable with inviting some random guy from her class to the place where she lived? I liked to think of myself as a pretty decent person, but there’s no way that she could’ve known that, right? Hoping that I wouldn’t turn into some creepy stalker felt like a risky thing to bet on for an attractive girl. Heck, should I be worried about her being some kind of stalker?

yeah, just send me the address and i’ll be there

looking forward to it! can’t wait for you to meet my roommate, too
i think you’ll like her

Her roommate? This was getting more and more mysterious, but as much as the more paranoid side of me tried to raise flags, it just didn’t feel wrong. Quite the opposite, in fact.

When she sent the address over, I looked it up, and it turned out she lived in a popular apartment complex that a few of my friends also lived in. It was one of those places that wasn’t right off of campus, but rather, was just far enough away to need to either drive or take the bus. The closer complexes were almost all where the kids with rich parents lived.

My apartment was a couple blocks out from Kelly’s, so rather than drive, I decided to walk there. It gave me a little time to think about how to handle my interactions with her outside of the classroom, but I’d been adjusting to that all day since we hadn’t really stopped texting since we exchanged numbers. I wished I better understood this weird relationship we’d formed, but it felt weird to ask the questions I was thinking, so I kept my mouth shut.

My knuckles rapping on her door masked the sound of the thumping in my ears. I was early by five minutes, probably because I ended up walking faster than I’d meant to due to being incredibly anxious about this whole situation. I felt so dumb for feeling like this for a simple study session, but if I could help it, I certainly wouldn’t be standing outside Kelly’s door freaking out like this.

As the door opened, had a momentary crisis where I wasn’t sure how to greet her. Did I hug her? Shake her hand?

“Hey,” I said, arcing my hand in a slight wave. It was my first, stupid, awkward instinct, but there was no fallout.

“Hey!” she gestured toward herself. “Come on in.”

The living area that I walked into was tidy – much cleaner and more orderly than my own. More noticeably, there were decorations on the tables, shelves, and walls, which was something that my apartment was sorely lacking. I’d tried several times to care about buying some paintings or posters or something to add some personalization to my apartment, but I just didn’t have the eye for that kind of thing.

I did, however, immediately notice the painting behind the sofa in Kelly’s living room. It was a large, overly serious, stylistic oil on canvas of this cartoon character from an old show on Nickelodeon. It was unmistakeable what it was, because there was only one in existence, and Kris had painted it. I’d seen the thing hanging in her bedroom since 11th grade, which begged the question – why was it now hanging in Kelly’s apartment?

“Hey Eric, what’s shaking?”

I turned around to find Kris standing there, a huge grin on her face, and looking overall particularly proud of herself.

“Kris? What the heck is going on?”

Kelly laughed. “I told you that you’d like my roommate.”

“When did you move here?” I said, baffled by the idea of what was happening.

“At the beginning of the semester, dummy,” she said. “Remember, I asked you for help moving, but you were back in Virginia that weekend.”

“But I saw you a week and a half ago…”

Kris’ grin didn’t waver a bit. “You think I was going to tell you and ruin this surprise?”

“I’m still incredibly confused. How do you know Kelly? And how did Kelly know that I know you?”

“Do you not remember me mentioning my cousin Kelly that lived across town dozens of times back in high school?”

I must’ve had an incredibly stupid look on my face. She was right, I did remember the name, but I’d never met her. “Ohhhh.”

“The timing finally worked out for us to room together, so here we are,” she said. “But finding out you were both in a class together, that was easy. You complained about Business Stats on Twitter like six times in a single day, and I already knew Kelly’s schedule. I put two and two together, showed her a picture of you, and told her she should find you and introduce herself.”

Kelly nodded. “As it turned out, though, that had been the day I was running late and sat next to you by chance, so we’d already met. When I told Kris, she cooked up this crazy scheme to get you to come over, and, well, here we are.”

I glanced at Kris, and if the smirk on her face didn’t give it away, the twinkle in her eye did. I suddenly understood everything. Kris knew me better than anyone, and my guess was she knew her cousin pretty well too. She was, almost undoubtedly, trying to set us up. This was classic Kris; she’d done it before several times to our other friends, but this was the first time she’d tried it on me. Not that I was complaining.

And to make matters more interesting, the instant I looked at her and realized what was going on, I could tell that she knew that I knew. Kris was almost famous among our old group of friends for this type of stuff. She’d milk the awkwardness out of every situation, and it was even worse when you knew what she was doing.

“From what I’ve heard, you two get along well,” Kris said. “Almost too well.”

“I’m sure you already knew that we would,” I said. This was a strategic move on my part. If I didn’t control the dialogue that resulted from Kris’ questions, Kelly would end up saying something like, “What do you mean?” which would then open Kris up to say, “You two make a great couple.”

Why was I resisting that, though? It was the perfect opportunity to see if Kelly was as curious as I was about getting to know each other better and the potential of that resulting relationship. Wasn’t Kris doing me a favor, even if she was deriving a little too much pleasure out of making things awkward?

“Oh, I did,” Kris said, the look on her face absolutely devious.

She was going to strike. I knew she was about to, and the only way out of it was for me to strike first. Yet, I didn’t want to destroy what Kris was setting up; I just wanted it to be less awkward than I knew she was going to make it. The question was how I would do that.

“Kelly, has Kris ever told you how long we’ve been friends?”

“Didn’t you guys date for a couple weeks in high school?”

“Yeah, but we’ve been friends even longer,” I said. “Do you have our 8th grade yearbook, Kris?”

“Somewhere in my closet,” she said, pausing. “You want to show her the picnic table picture, don’t you?”

I was incredibly proud of how quickly I’d come up with that diversion. Our middle school yearbook had pages and pages full of candid pictures of students hanging out during recess, and one of them had captured the very moment that Kris and I became friends. We’d made a few new mutual friends at our college, and we’d shown that picture to most of them.

“If you don’t mind,” I said.

“Sure,” she said, with a slight knowing nod. I knew I hadn’t thrown her off of her awkward matchmaking game, but I wasn’t trying to. I just needed a minute alone with Kelly, and my tactic had worked.

As soon as Kris left the room, I turned to Kelly.

“You know-“

“Hey, so-“

We both stopped, realizing we were talking over each other pretty quickly.

“Sorry,” I said. “You go first.”

“It’s okay, go ahead.”

I could keep playing the game of being polite, but this was valuable time we were wasting, so I had to temporarily ignore the voice of social etiquette in the back of my head.

“I don’t know if you know this about Kris, but does this thing where she tries to set people up.” I couldn’t believe I was saying it out loud, but I knew what I had to do. “That’s what she’s doing right now, and she’s going to try to make it as awkward as possible. I just wanted to let you know.”

“Wait, you knew?”

I arched an eyebrow. “It’s not Kris’ first matchmaker rodeo. She used to do this all the time in high school.”

“Yeah, trust me, I know,” Kelly said, sighing. “She’s done it before to our cousin Steph. I told her not to pull this on me a loooooong time ago, and as much as I’d like to think she forgot, I’m sure it’s really that she just chose to ignore me.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” I said. “Didn’t go well for your cousin?”

“Actually, Steph is still dating the guy that Kris set her up with.”

I’d never really stopped to think about it, but Kris had played matchmaker with four couples that I knew of. Three of them were still together, and the one that wasn’t broke up amicably because they decided to go to college literally across the country from one another. As much as I hated to admit it-

“Kris is actually pretty good at playing matchmaker.”

It was like Kelly read my mind. But more importantly, I couldn’t believe the implication of what she’d said.

“Wait, are you saying…?” I said, not really sure how to finish the thought.

“I think you’re pretty cool,” she said. “If you want to, it couldn’t hurt to try going out some time, could it?” Her face started to flush a bit, despite how collected she seemed.

“I mean, yeah, for sure. That sounds great, actually.”

“I have to warn you, though,” she said. “I’m kind of a dork.”

“Well, yeah, you’re related to Kris. That should go without saying.”

Kelly laughed. “You know, I was kind of confused and maybe slightly jealous back when Kris first told me about you years ago.”

“Why’s that?”

“I didn’t understand why you two were just friends, but at the same time, the way that she talked about you was so positive, and I guess I wanted to a friendship like that. My friends in middle school were the worst…it’s a long story, but I went almost friendless in 9th grade for a few months after a big falling out with them.”

“Oh wow, that sounds rough.”

“It was, but I eventually made new friends, and then the next year, I heard that you two started dating, and it made me really happy for her. It only confused me more when she told me like three weeks later that you’d broken up but were still friends.”

“Trust me, that confused a lot of people, and it’s kind of hard to explain, but-“

“No, you don’t have to explain,” she said. “The way she talked about you leading up to you coming over, and the way you guys interacted just now – I know it’s complicated, and maybe I’m simplifying it a bit too much, but there is a deep amount of respect and love between you two.”

She didn’t say it, but I knew what she meant, and she was right. Kris and I had spent two formative years together before we tried dating, and it didn’t work because of the exact type of platonic love we had for each other that I knew Kelly was talking about.

“That’s incredibly insightful,” I said. “Spot on, too.”

Kelly smiled. “She’ll probably be back soon. How do you want to handle this?”

I grinned. “Let’s turn the tables on her and act totally oblivious.”

“Oh, absolutely, yes. Let’s.”

Kelly grinned ear to ear, and in that moment, I could not have been happier about what Kris had done for us. My head had intially tried to convince my heart to slow down, but I guess sometimes following my heart couldn’t hurt, especially with Kris’ involvement.

There was no more doubting this; everything about interacting with Kelly had fallen completely into place, and I knew it couldn’t feel more right. Also, I couldn’t ignore that with Kris’ matchmaking success rate, there was a pretty good chance of things working out – you know, statistically speaking.

February 25

Chance

I usually expect letdowns. It’s my life; I’ve long become accustomed to it, but again and again, I allow my hopes to rise and expectations to form.

Normally I’d call it a rookie mistake. Quite sad for someone who is hardly a rookie.

I am of course talking about a girl I met. Well, I didn’t technically meet her. I’d only seen her. Didn’t know her name or anything else about her, but she had an infectious smile with little dimples that perfectly framed her dainty nose. It was impossible to mistake her for anyone else, and yet, I’d seen her in at least three different places.

First, she was at a clothing store in the mall. A few days later, I saw her pumping gas, and then the day after, she was ahead of me in line at the book store.

Coincidences aside, I had a strange feeling about her. It was like we were drawn to each other. How many times had I passed her before with noticing?

But that smile – how could my eyes not be drawn to it?

I was never one to believe in fate. It’s a silly notion, really. Things cannot be destined. To suggest that my choices are already made before I am even presented with them removes any notion of choice, and to live in a world where choice and chance are illusions just seems depressing. So I chose to believe otherwise.

This girl, though… In a city of 80,000, what are the odds that I’d see her on three occasions in such a short period of time, much less the odds that I’d recognize a complete stranger. Could that really be chance?

But here I stand, thinking of this all in an instant, staring her in the face in my first class in the new semester.

I don’t know if this is fate or luck, but there’s no way I am missing this opportunity to make my own destiny.

August 29

Connections

When I was 19, my younger brother was killed in a car wreck.  Derek had just gotten his license, and the rules of the road had not yet become second nature to him.  I was with him in the car, and somehow, I managed to come out of it alive, but not without some head trauma.  My memories became lost in a void and had stayed there ever since.  My brother –  I didn’t remember him.  My younger sister – well, I didn’t remember her either.  I’ve since spent two years with my family and the people that were apparently my friends, rebuilding relationships, connections, and making new memories.

Lexi is 17 now, and I treasure her dearly.  I didn’t remember playing with her and my brother when we were younger.  I didn’t remember holding her when she was a baby, nor did I remember my parents’ faces without wrinkles; my dad without gray hair in his sideburns or my mom without a constant hint of sadness in her eyes.  It’s so strange knowing that my family had probably changed so much, yet I couldn’t recognize  the changes.

My brother had gotten his license at 17 years old.  It was the earliest a person could do so where we live, and despite my brother’s accident, my sister was still eager to get her license as well.  Of course, to think that the same thing would happen to her was silly, so my parents did not object to her getting her license, but it very obviously worried our mom.  I heard her talking to our dad about it late one night when I got out of bed for a glass of milk.  She may have been crying a little, but I could not tell for certain as I slowly passed my parents’ closed bedroom door.

It didn’t surprise me that they’d at least be worried.  It brought about bad memories for them, and they still seemed incredibly anxious when I went on trips or got back home from my college classes a little late.  I hated to worry them, but I had to live my life, as did Lexi.

When Lexi asked mom to teach her how to drive, mom told Lexi to ask our dad.  We both knew why mom deferred to dad, and I knew dad would do anything to comfort mom when she had her moments, but who would be there to comfort dad?  He’d lost a son, and his other son had lost 19 years of memories.  It had hurt both of them, as well as my sister.  But me?  I never knew how to feel.  Was I supposed to be sad about things I didn’t remember?  I felt like even though there were things I was missing that I was supposed to remember, I should be happy with what I had.

I offered to teach Lexi how to drive, but dad shot my idea down almost as fast as I mentioned it.  It wasn’t that I’d only been driving for four years, but rather that he thought it would worry our mom even more.  After all, the last time one of my younger siblings had been at the helm of a car with me in the passenger seat, things didn’t turn out so well.

She wasn’t barred from driving me places once she got her license, of course.  Just, in this case, dad knew it would make mom feel better.  She’d have to come to terms with it at some point, but for now, he wanted her to have the time she needed to do exactly that.

Lexi had been 17 for three weeks when she got her first lesson from dad.  I expected dad to come back with a look of absolute terror on his face, but much to my surprise, he seemed rather happy.

“She’s a natural,” he said.

My mom seemed shocked.  “Really?”

“I honestly can’t believe that’s the first time she’s ever driven.”

Lexi grinned and handed the keys back to dad.  For a second, I could’ve sworn I recognized the look on her face.  It reminded me of someone.  Maybe my friend Christina?

“I watched a lot of videos on the Internet, dad.  No sweat,” Lexi said, then looked over at me.  “Also years of beating Alan at racing video games.”  I couldn’t vouch for anything more than two years ago, but she did indeed very regularly beat me in our favorite racing game.  Badly.  According to her, she’d always beaten both me and our brother at that game.

It was strange, at first, seeing my little sister behind the wheel of a car.  I only had two years worth of memories of her, but none of those had ever put her behind a steering wheel.  I’d grown protective of her, probably because of how hard she tried to make me feel normal.  She was also the first person I saw after waking up from the accident.  When I said I didn’t know who she was, she introduced herself to me with tears in her eyes.

The doctors had apparently told my family there was a possibility of amnesia, so my sister wasn’t very surprised, though they’d all hoped for the more positive option – that I’d wake up and have no lasting issues.  They even said I’d probably eventually regain my memories.  Yet two years later, the first 19 years of my life remained a vacuum of nothingness.  I sometimes had feelings of déja vu, but everyone has that.

Lexi got her license a couple weeks later after a few more lessons with dad and a driver’s ed class.  She wanted to drive everywhere, every chance she got.  Mom needed groceries?  Lexi offered to go to the store.  Dad left something at the office?  Lexi offered to take him there.  She didn’t have a job yet, so she couldn’t justify constantly joyriding while our parents were footing her gas bill, but for any real reason she had to drive, she practically already had the keys in her hands and the car started.

It was her third day of being a proud, licensed motorist when Lexi offered to drive me to my night class.  Mom obviously wasn’t thrilled about it, but she tried her best to put on a happy face.  She was glad that we got along, and I think maybe that was the rationale she used in her head to be okay with having such a similar situation to what had caused her so much pain and misery in the past.

“Lexi, be careful,” was all she had to say.  I grabbed my things, and Lexi and I headed for the car.

Maybe I should’ve felt nervous.  Memories or no memories of the wreck, I still knew what had caused my life and the lives of my family to change so much.  But this was Lexi and I two years after all of that happened.  It was similar, but it was not the same.  She looked so proud to be driving around her big brother, too.  I would not sour her smile by bringing up depressing things.

I looked over at her while she was driving, and confidence was clearly visible on her face.  Driving was not something she planned to mess up on.

She must’ve seen me staring out of the corner of her eye, and shot a glance at me.

“What are you looking at?”

“You just seem completely in your element,” I said.

Lexi grinned.  “Driving is a lot of fun.”

As she refocused her attention on the road, her grin once again reminded me of someone.  The way her lips wrinkled at the edges from her smile, the shape of her cheeks, and the way her nose turned up a little – no doubt, she reminded me of someone I knew.  Was it one of my friends?  I went through them in my head, but none of them seemed to fit this image.

Suddenly, the car ahead of us came to an abrupt stop, causing Lexi to slam on the brakes.  She stopped with a good distance to spare, but her grin had quickly morphed into fright.  Though it was probably the first time Lexi had ever had a scare while driving, I had seen that look before.

In that moment, it all came rushing back to me.  I remembered Lexi’s first day of elementary school, Derek’s first baseball game, having a full kitchen table…and the horrific look on Derek’s face as he realized he’d made a huge mistake, turned to me, and shot me an almost apologetic glance as he crashed the car into a guardrail.

Tears began to well up in my eyes as the past two years meshed together with my previous life.

“What’s wrong?” Lexi asked, shocked to see tears suddenly streaming down my face.

“I remember.  I remember everything.”

That was all I said, but Lexi understood immediately.  She pulled over, we got out of the car, and she held me as I cried.  My relationships now were so different.  My life had changed so much and I didn’t even know it.

But for the first time, I remembered Derek, and even though he’d been gone for two years, I was finally able to miss him.

August 10

Common Senses

“How do I even begin to describe these feelings?” he said.  His mind raced as he tried to think of words that came anywhere close to what he felt.

“It’s okay,” she said.  “I understand your feelings.  They’re the same ones I have.”

“But people experience feelings in different ways.  There is no telling that your experience is the same as mine.”

“Maybe not, but the end result is the same.”

“That’s adorably sweet,” he said.  In his head, he had an image.  It was him and her and nothing else.  Just the two of them and empty space.  And they held each other and smiled, because nothing else was necessary.

But that was too dramatic.  Perhaps too dark.  Maybe even far too simple.  How could he explain this to her?  The words simply escaped him.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.  Obviously, she’d seen the look on his face – the one he got when he was deep in thought.  Unfortunately, it looked strangely as though he was upset when he unwittingly acquired this expression.

“Nothing.  Just thinking.”

“About what?”

“About how to explain my feelings.”

“You really don’t have to.  I understand.”

“I know, but I want to.  I may even feel like I need to explain them to you, but I just don’t know how.”

She smiled and reached her hand out for his.  The look on his face relaxed, warmed.  He locked his fingers in between hers, carefully paying attention to the feeling of her fingers as they meshed with his.

She was there in a field, standing atop the only hill within visible distance.  The air was crisp, and the grass was the greenest green, though pockmarked with bright yellow dandelions.  He was at the foot of the hill, barefoot, standing atop the perfect grass.  He could feel every blade beneath his feet.  She looked down at him as he began to make his way up the hill.

A field?  No, that was too cliché.  Why were the feelings manifesting like this?

“You have that look on your face again,” she said.

“Sorry, I’m…”

“It’s okay,” she said, squeezing his fingers as they continued walking down the sidewalk.

As she touched him, as he took in the sense of her warm skin, the words suddenly came to him.  He could never verbally paint the pictures in his head, but the feeling of her touch reminded him that the senses were linked to emotions.

“I’ve got it!” he said.

“You know how to say it now?”

“Yes, I think I know how to explain.”

Her lips raised at the ends to form a smile that seemed too caring for him to deserve.  “Tell me how you feel.”

“It’s the scent of cherry blossoms and freshly brewed coffee; the feeling of silk against skin, of an ice cube on your tongue on a hot summer day.  It’s the sight of shooting stars, of lightning that flashes across a deep purple sky.  It’s the sound of the wind blowing through your hair and of waves gently lapping at the shoreline; the taste of fresh apple pie followed by a cold glass of milk.”

She stopped walking and stared at him for at least 15 seconds before saying a word.  He felt the intensity of her gaze and immediately knew what she was trying to convey.  She’d understood what he meant, and now she was the one at a loss for words.

He smiled.  “It’s the feeling of wanting to spend our forever together.”

She nodded, brought herself closer to him, stopping just for a moment.  “I don’t know how you did that.  I don’t even understand why I understand what you mean.  But I do.  And I love you.”

The kiss that followed made all of the things he’d said pale in comparison.