We hadn’t seen William in at least two years when we went to pick him up at the train station, and we were killing time waiting for him by pointing out weird people we saw. I was doubled over with laughter having identified someone who looked exactly like William if he became a crazy, disheveled mathematician ten years from now when my friend Nicee gently touched my arm and said, “That is William.”
Their country was in the throes of civil war when his wife received an irresistible job offer in America, and so he followed her and watched the years unfold on her steadily increasing rank and wealth. In time, their children became successful doctors in New York and LA, and still he couldn’t convince himself that they wouldn’t all have been better off staying in the country of his birth.
Every fortification has a foundation. If someone has built a wall, it’s because at one point in time or another, they felt insecure.
At the time, it seemed as though they were really having fun together. But in retrospect, she realized she’d only gone out with him for the excuse to wear pretty dresses.
She had always found the botanical gardens incredibly boring. But on her first date with the botanist, he ran around throwing his nose into the best-smelling flowers and guiding her hands over strange-feeling bark; and it was a whole other world.
I asked you what was wrong. You said, “I can’t get drunk enough.”
Her friend had traveled a long way to visit but the school refused to allow her to bring any guests to class.
He tagged along anyway, and she introduced him as a foreign exchange student to all of her teachers, while he nodded awkwardly and pieced together broken English which was, in fact, his native tongue.
His parents sent him to a Christian boarding school against his will. When the boys next door held their weekly bible study, he would play Ani DiFranco at top volume, usually putting a song with gratuitous cursing like “Untouchable Face” on repeat.
She never told him so, but she kept every message he left on her answering machine. On really bad days, she would hit “playback” and listen until she laughed out loud.
The city girl spent exactly 12.5 hours at the agriturismo before making her apologies to the owner, checking out early, and catching the first bus to Rome. It was a salvation to step onto the metro, to make her way through the bustling crowds at the station, and to fall asleep listening to a cacophony of sounds beneath her window.
He never had any intentions of rebelling, and if he had found himself in a far more liberal environment, he would have seemed very conservative by comparison. But he could never resist the opportunity to shock someone.
He maintained a permanent, unshakable calm and was never miffed by anyone’s behavior or ruffled by anyone’s criticisms or insults. This is because he woke up every morning expecting at least one person to be an asshole and, accordingly, he was never disappointed or surprised when it happened.
The only occasions upon which he took out enough time to write people letters were the times when he was most deeply depressed. As a result, those who lived at a distance from him felt certain he was in a perpetual state verging on suicidal.
They were both morbidly obese when they got married. They spent the honeymoon in bed, but not like people thought—instead they lie there watching on-demand movies and guzzling down buckets of chicken.
My friend is always having trouble with men, and I dreamt last night she was a very happy, well-adjusted lesbian. Now I wonder if I should tell her to give it a go?
She couldn’t stand to be touched. Once, in college, her girlfriends had insisted on washing, drying, combing, and curling her hair while she protested and cried the whole time.
Back then, we were having so much fun. It was mainly because we had no idea what was about to happen to us.
Her father died while she was away on a study abroad trip. She never traveled again.
She was an American abroad for the first time, vainly struggling to employ all the French phrases she’d learned in high school. She kept wondering: “Why can’t these people speak their own language?”
Time flows through me like wind through a flute. So whatever pushes time, is playing me between its lips.