“If you could do it again differently,” you asked me once, “would you?”
You noticed me look up at the ceiling the way I do when I’m trying to think, and lifted the cup of earl gray tea from the table to meet your lips. Just barely cool enough to drink, the way you liked it. My eyes were moved to the ripples you made sipping on the surface of the water, and in the wavering reflection I saw the tops of the masts of the boats tucked into Sausalito harbor bob up and down through the window.
“Do it again? Starting when?” I asked.
“Anywhere you want. Would you change anything?”
In my head, I thumbed through the ten years since we’d first met. The half-dozen apartments and cities interleaved between my redeye flights back from your apartment in New York and your holidays over in Portland with me. In a strange way I had seen this little breakfast here with you coming from the start. We’d talked about it a hundred times, a hundred different daydreams of shared meals and conversations of all manners and moods, all of them somewhere in this city that was somehow inexplicably woven as tightly into our fate as your fate was to mine. In that way, being here felt like the closing of a loop. A ten-year trip through the unrelenting uncertainty of time coming to a close.
I thought about your question. I had no doubt in my mind that, had I strayed a little off course here and there, we’d still have ended up here. That much felt certain, even if you hadn’t believed me from the start. It was just about how we got here, I supposed. I took a sip from my own cup, a dark cup of mocha. More my taste than tea at this time of day.
“I’d stay longer in each moment,” I said finally. My gaze returned to meet yours.
You smiled one of your knowing smiles, one of half endearment and half skepticism. “Explain,” you replied.
“I wouldn’t leave anything out,” I continued. “But there are moments that linger in my mind even after all these years. The ones that convince me that the way it happened was the way I’d always want it to have gone. I’d just… stay longer in them. Be more present, you know?”
“… feel the vibrations of the moment that demand to be felt,” I added.
“Is this one of those moments?” you asked, but you could read the answer on my face.
“I think so.”
“Then let’s stay here.”
“Sounds good to me.”
And so we stayed.
Next: the way