today, standing with my cart in the produce section, I was walking idly, checking my list, when suddenly I realized that a woman shopping nearby smelled just like an old boyfriend, one whom I have neither seen nor heard from in over 3 years. instead of absently fondling the swiss chard, I suddenly found myself back on the st. lawrence river, the darkness pressing in on the cool glass of the cabin's back door. oh, those few days are nothing but a blip in the history of my life, hardly any time at all, and yet they were so important to me then; even now I look back with a quiet but delicious fondness. the day I got there -- after my last performance as a graduate student, on the first hot day of the summer -- I sat out back on the deck in a black bikini, even though it was not quite warm enough, and dipped the tips of my toes into the frigid, clear river. it was just the two of us and the dog, a border collie called Furio. I got drunk from one delicious margarita and when we hopped into his truck to go grab some groceries from town, I leapt onto the driveway and impaled the arch of my bare foot on a small sharp rock, incurring a blood blister which stayed there for months afterward.
the next morning I awoke to fried eggs and thick slabs of peppered bacon, coffee in glass mugs. I set up shop on the kitchen table, writing a paper due that evening for the last final exam of my school career. he left me with the dog so he could go work on the family boat. I left in the afternoon to take the evening's final, which I completed easily, and walked out into a mild May evening, the sky fading through indigo to black. when the 90 minutes' car ride landed me back at that door, I arrived to find the house warm with light. the dog ran out to greet me. "I made dinner," he said simply. "I waited for you to come back." that night on the pull-out couch we built a fort out of pillows. "no girls allowed," he said, from beneath.
later that summer I would sit on the floor of my studio apartment, the phone cradled damply to my ear, and describe how I had felt listening to Chopin in the back room of the staffing agency where I worked. "my boss came in during the first movement. I love that piece so much; when she saw me listening it felt like she had seen me naked."
"wait, the F minor?" he said, and there was scrambling on the other line. "how does it go, how does it go? hum me a few bars" -- and suddenly from the earpiece, the opening motive of the concerto bounded forth from the piano on the other end of the line.
"shit, I'm rusty," he said.