Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Manchester Sighting

I thought I saw you in Manchester.
It was drizzly, cold, and I had my head down, navigating oily puddles and cracked sidewalks. Around me tall brick buildings loomed, and I liked the grungy feel of the people passing by, the soggy, disintegrating posters on the walls, and even the smell of coal smoke and car exhaust. I was in the North Quarter, and everyone was an artist, or trying to be, or just too poor to afford to live and eat anywhere else.
And there you were, or so I thought, sitting in a steamed-up café window, condensation dripping on the inside matching the speckled rain on the glass. Curly brown head, with longer hair like you used to have when I knew you years ago. You were bent over, and I want to say you were reading a book like the ones I used to lend you, falling apart Penguin paperbacks with pages that had come out and been stuffed back in again, always in the right order somehow, but that left you having to gingerly hold the thing like a newborn, afraid you would hurt it, or break something.
Most likely it was your phone though. Perhaps you were texting a girl across the city, someone who was equally as unhappy as you, who revelled in the cigarette black coffee alcohol depression that made us feel cool when we were 18, 19, 20, but now just seems put-on, a disguise, something we used to pretend to do in order to set ourselves apart.
You know what though? Even though for a split second my heart stopped, even though I knew it was impossible, even though I wanted to freeze or at least take a second look- I didn't. I kept on going, moving through the sudden fog in my thoughts until it cleared, until the hole in my stomach filled, until something or someone else caught my eye. And it didn't take very long, only 10 seconds or so, but here I am, a week later, still wondering.

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