3:00 pm. Chicago. Back home from a hot summer morning spent doing odd chores. A bit frazzled, I walked into my airy studio apartment right by the river…my footsteps resounding on the hardwood. Breathing in the cool air deeply I was thankful I’d left my pad at a low temperature and wearily dropped my trusty brown leather messenger bag on a cardboard carton I was yet to unpack after having moved in. Walking up to a large glass window with an unobstructed view of some very famous buildings, I mused for a few seconds a vista that would turn deliciously romantic in a few hours before turning the blinds to block out some of the sunshine. Phew. Much Better. Gulping copious amounts of cold Orangina poured into a glass, my jeans and boyfriend shirt (Yeah, I chuckle every time I wear it too) were discarded into the laundry hamper and I nipped into the shower briefly. Feeling much better, cleaner and relaxed I ambled along to my bed covered by a distinctly Indian looking white and red quilt courtesy my mom who thought it would help me maintain a connection to my roots if I snuggled every night under something that said “Made in India” and looked it. She believes in god. So god bless her! However, god was the last thing on my mind as I plopped face down onto my bed for a mid-day power snooze. Something else was. Rather…Someone.
I woke. What was that noise? My sleep muddled brain registered an odd sound. Looking around confusedly, I ran a hand through my hair worsening my bed-head.
“Hey” …She was back. It was almost as if she had her own secret rabbit hole entryway into both my place and my existence. As I sat upright to look at her, I couldn’t help the smile that made its way on to my face. I wondered if she could see it.
“Hey, How was your day?”, I asked her.
”Its fabulous now” I grinned. Almost every conversation we had everyday started off like this. We continued to talk about her day. About mine. She told me she’d gone out to grab some hot chocolate in the night.
“At 1 am?” I asked incredulously. I felt her nod.
Cheekily I prompted, “If you keep the crazy hours you do, I will have nothing to do with it…”
She laughed. A laugh I’d once had to imagine. Not anymore. Hearing her changed that.
A pause. “You have everything to do with it” . Somewhere inside I was beginning to melt.
We continued to engage in light hearted banter, occasionally venturing into the shenanigans in our lives. She possessed an optimism and energy that I couldn’t get enough of. It was infectious. Even in my mid-afternoon-post-interrupted-nap-comatose state, running out to get hot chocolate in the searing heat suddenly seemed like a great idea if it was with her. But I squelched such silliness. She would think I was nuts if she didn’t already. I deliberately digressed and started telling her how my older sibling was a scatterbrain.
“So was I!! That’s not fair!” She exclaimed in mock indignation. I burst out laughing. She was at a distance so I pretended to pinch her cheeks in jest, “Awwwww…”
She appeared cross…cutely so but still cross. “Sorry, did I hurt your cheeks?” … I decided to push my luck…”I can kiss them to make it all better…hmm?”
“Hmmm”, She pretended to ponder and then acquiesced “Go ahead, I like the sound of that”
“I’m sure I’ll like it as well” , I eagerly acknowledged and I proceeded to place a light one on her right cheek. Ever the gracious lady, she thanked me. But much too soon.
“Ah Ah Ah”, I teased. “But I pinched both cheeks, How can we let the left one be?” …She gave me a dazzling grin.
“Yes, How can we ?”
“But the left cheek is special”, I continued
“Why?”, She asked curiously
I decided to tell her exactly and deliberately why …“Because…I’d nuzzle the left cheek… take a deep breath…smell you and then…….. place a soft one”
At that moment…I got a brief glimpse of her heart.
Of course, in the interest of pretending to possess manners I also told her I might do something terribly inappropriate right after. As a warning. As impertinent as it may be.
She caught me off guard. “Who’s to say what’s appropriate or not?”
I had to take a minute to gulp and look up at the heavens. Just as I recovered enough and looked back down at her to respond …
“………is offline.” Flashed on my screen.
To be continued…