The first time I saw her was in the laundry room. Scrubbed fresh and clean, hair pulled back into a ponytail, not even a trace of make up. Wearing a baggy gray hoodie with a simple USC across the chest, those stretchy yoga pants that hug the ass and then flair out into baggy bells at the bottom; it all complemented by hot pink shower sandals. She was leaning over the washing machine when I walked in, trying to retrieve a lost item from its depths. Up on her toes, those black yoga pants fit her nicely in this position.
The second time I saw her was in the elevator. It was a warm spring day, and I was just getting home from the library. The day had started off cool, we were all carrying our jackets. I’d already hit the Number 4 to head up to my apartment when she came running down the hall, “Please Hold It!” So I did. “Thanks,” she smiled as she stepped into the elevator with me and my elderly gay next door neighbor, who at the time was holding a simply delightful arrangement of spring daisies. Her thin wrist adorned with various costume bracelets punched the Number 3 as she stood in front of us, waiting as we rose. She wore a black tank top, and held some sort of light green sweater in her hands. Her thin brown shoulders looked delicate, and fun, if there is such a thing as shoulders that look fun. Shoulders showing off the promise of fun, activity, adventure, good times.
The third time I saw her was the alley next to our building. The hip little alley between the Oyster Bar and Voodoo Donuts, outside of Valentine’s; the bar you’d never find unless you knew it was there. It was 2:30 in the am, and the show had ended, the bars had ended, but it was one of those warm spring nights, and no one was ready to go home. I was cutting through on my way back from Santeria, we’d locked eyes and smiled at each other. Her cheeks were flushed from alcohol and dancing. From being young and fun and adventurous on a warm spring night in Portland. She was the picture of youth in action, she was the pulse of the city in that warm spring night. She took my hand and led me back into the building. Her small fingers in mine, and though I didn’t know her name, it was exactly perfect. She looked up into my blues and punched The Number 4 on the elevator panel, wearing that mischievous pixie smile like she’d invented it.
Later, much later, we laid in my bed and traced each other’s curves with delicate finger tip touches. The room dark, but with soft light coming from the city, we listened through open windows to gentle police sirens mingled with hustlers’ cat calls as Oldtown Portland slowly drifted off to sleep. I was fading fast, and my last conscious thought was that of her tracing numbers into my outstretched palm.
I awoke the next morning, alone of course, but with a smile on my face. My right palm was traced with dark blue ink, #306.
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