new orleans (one) [supposed to be two]

Saturday, December 1, 2001

I often find myself wondering if Stephanie ever misses me. I wonder if she thinks of me at work or at home. She calls me at work, so it makes me wonder — but I still doubt it. I wonder if she ever thinks of coming to Ruta Maya to see if I’m there. The way I do, though, I have no idea what I’d say. I’m sure we’d find something to talk about: politics, religion, people we know.

I doubt it, but what do I know? Maybe she does.

I remember when we first met and the ease with which we spoke. I remember the night at Ruta Maya, just as I was leaving at midnight, that she stolled in from the sweat lodge sweaty and stinky and we sat on the patio drinking mochas, smoking, and finding just how much we agreed on organized religion through bashing it. I remember asking myself then if she might be “the next one.” I dismissed it for the time-being, as I did all romantic involvement then.

I remember eating with her nightly for weeks on end — easy conversation and wonderful company.

I remember the events of September 11th and wanting to get to Ruta Maya as soon as possible to discuss them with her. I remember listening to our friends talk about buying shotgun shells and wanting to bomb whoever did it back to the Stone Age. I remember shaking my head and her agreeing with me.

I remember eating dinner that night at the Spaghetti Warehouse. It was someone’s sixteenth birthday, but the half-filled restaurant was in a somber mood. The birthday singing was dismal and the applause only slightly better. We shook our heads again and marvelled at the horror of the day and the idea of having to celebrate your birthday after such a tragedy. Tough act to follow.

I remember calling her on my cell phone just after dropping her off at home one night and asking her out on a real date. I remember that date. I remember the second planned date when she cancelled an hour before and I went to her house all dressed-up and silently acted like an asshole unintentionally out of disappointment.

I remember apologizing later that week and her breaking up with me not long afterwards at the same table at Ruta Maya I’d broken up with the girl before her. I remember cursing that table.

I remember asking her if she wanted to go to Mount Bonnell with me days later and her turning me down. I went alone that day. We went together the next night and got back together. I remember kissing her there.

I remember drinking with her for the first time at her house. I did a shot of Tito’s vodka with her roommate and got fairly drunk. I remember her telling her dog, which was sitting in her lap, that she was going to kiss the drunk guy. I remember making love to her for the first time that night.

I remember being comfortable with her. I remember kissing her at Ruta Maya and on the corner of Fourth and Guadalupe and when we’d first get into my car at night. I remember being happy and feeling good enough even though she’s smarter than me.

I remember telling her that I wanted her to be happy and productive in all areas of her life even if that meant not seeing her as often. I remember her saying she felt like she needed to give me 100% but that she didn’t feel I was demanding that. I remember her staying home that weekend and breaking up with me again less than a week later. She was in need of more time to herself.

I remember her yelling at me — calling me an asshole and a bastard and passive-aggressive — in the middle of Lavaca Street after a night of drinking at Fado’s. I remember crying. I remember her comforting me with hugs and holding my hand on the way home. I also remember her shying away from my attempts at comfort earlier.

I remember moving on without apologies.

I remember going to New Orleans together — it was only last week. I remember eating together and sleeping together without touching and discovering the town together. I remember wanting to tell her how beautiful she looked so many more times than I did, out of a feeling of inappropriateness in our newly-defined relationship.

I remember dreaming of her with another guy and waking up unhappy.

Now I’m left wandering around Ruta Maya to see if she’s arrived while my attentions have been elsewhere — conversation in the smokeshop, my writing. But I remember.

I remember, on the drive back from New Orleans, thinking of all the times I’ve wanted to kiss her or hold her and I’ve restrained myself out of a feeling of impropriety, telling her that I’m not passive-aggressive, I’m passive-affectionate.

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