“Your eyes are particularly blue when you’re hung over,” said a woman who was very much not my fiancé. She sort of looked like my fiancé, standing in front of my big front window overlooking downtown Portland, only wearing one of my old button up dress shirts, drinking coffee from my mug. It looked cold out, crisp, clear. Back in Minneapolis there’d be snow on the ground, but here it just rained a lot.
“How do you know?” I groaned and stretched, still in bed, definitely hung over, “I haven’t opened them yet.” This woman, this not-my-fiancé-woman, made a pretty picture, barefoot and tan, long brown hair hanging over her shoulders as she stared down at the hustle and bustle of downtown at the holidays. An old love, maybe my first true love from a lifetime ago, I wasn’t ready to give her up.
I eased out of bed, and joined her at the window, my hands on her hips, pulling her close. “I missed you, why don’t you move up here with me?” She sighed and leaned back against me.
“You know it would never work,” she whispered.
“When I was a little girl, growing up in Chicago, my grandmother used to take me downtown during the Christmas season. We’d watch the shoppers and the lights, hear the music on the street, drop pennies in the red kettles, and get cocoa from the street vendors. Just her and I. That was the happiest time in my life. I was 6.” She said this with a distant sadness, and I tightened my arms around her.
We used to be so happy, her and I. Back when we were young and poor. Sharing that closet of an apartment off Broadway. Dollar movie dates in the second run theatre complimented by contraband wine from paper cups. We were beautiful with the world in front of us, and we knew it. I sighed and breathed her in deeply, and wondered how we ever got to be where we are now. How could it have happened that I let this one go when she was the only one who ever made me feel whole? She was the one who believed in me, even before I believed in myself. Now she lived a thousand miles away, and I was engaged to someone else.
I leaned in close, with my head over her shoulder and whispered softly in her ear, “You still eat blue berry pancakes?” She turned to look back at me with beautifully sad eyes framing a reluctant smile, “I will with you.”