Summer - summer - summertime. Only it wasn't. With the wind at my back my scarf fell foward. Car keys were in the front pocket of my sweatshirt. I fumbled around for them with hands that were still warm with massage oil. My therapist is more than a professional, she's also a good friend of mine. I always leave her place at peace with my fellow man, noticing how tranquil Wisconsin Avenue and Marquette University have become. Crossing the street ahead of me was a man wearing a long dark coat. Behind me the Brumder Mansion flowers were gone for the season. I'm outgoing by nature so when the man coming towards me was close enough to make eye contact with, I smiled.
Further west and north is the old frat house where we used to hang out. While my thoughts flew there he had turned to face a bar that used to be called The Trysting Place. Next to it is That Coffee Shop which has a tiny terrace in back. It overlooks nothing but it was a nice place to have a hot breakfast on cool mornings. Before either of us could say anything a newer city bus pulled up to the curb, I stepped back when he moved to the side trying to picture how I must look to him: oil in my hair, wearing old comfy clothes, a flush went through me but I stood my ground as if daring him to comment on my appearance. Traffic kept moving while we stood there looking, yet not looking, at each other. He too was wearing well worn clothes, broken in jeans and a Milwaukee Brewers cap that had threads sticking up at a seam.
The last time I had seen him we had both been dressed to impress our corporate world. The night before he left we had a mandatory meeting to attend. None of us had wanted to go so we vented by complaining and making fun of upper management. At the meeting my manager stood up to receive an award. Time dragged and then stood still. Our branch was the recipient of more awards so I clapped dutifully while daydreaming about what would come after the meeting was over. Somehow I missed my name being called. A guy behind me poked me, someone else told me I was wanted up front and it was an honor to stand up by my boss and accept an award that my team of interns had earned.
A lot of things did not go according to plan that summer. At work I was moved from a branch where I was next in line for a promotion to the largest branch in the state. That Fourth of July my ex-husband threw his phone against the wall when I told him I was filing for divorce. The dent is still there and I remember leaving work, not to drive home but to park my car behind the Wisconsin Athletic Club. I would climb into the car of someone who cared, someone I loved, who was nice to me when my ex was not. We broke the rules together and if any of our co-workers were suspicious about how much time we spent with each other no one said anything to me until after it was over. I can't say that it made sense at the time only it did. We wanted the same things, took the same showers, ate off the same plates, ran together through Lake Michigan waves and over the broken sidewalk that led to his place thinking, this is it, nothing else matters.
That summer he had worn glasses. Now either contacts or surgery were responsible for his corrected vision. His baseball cap was one I recognized since we had sat next to each other at the game where he purchased it. It had taken him a while to decide which one he wanted. He said he would rather not have a hat at all than go home with one he would regret later. My hand closed over my keys while I thought about all the things I had wanted to say back then. I kept thinking - be cool, be smooth, forgive and forget. It had been a summer fling - here one moment, gone like the blooms on the plants I was now facing. I took a step towards my car wondering if he would remember that my car had been silver back then too.
After he quit working for the company I worked for I found out that he had told people we slept together. Both my manager and a good friend of mine talked to me about it. Apparently the relationship hadn't meant to him what it did to me. He hadn't said goodbye to me and I resented having to communicate with him via text. By the time he replied to my message the pregnancy was a non-issue. I deleted his name and number from my phone and assume he did the same. I didn't know why he wasn't walking away because he wasn't saying anything to me. I felt stupid just standing there, I could have suggested we grab a drink at what had been The Trysting Place, or warm up at That Coffee Shop, but I wasn't sure how I felt about him and I had no idea what he thought about me.
Either of us could have broken our shared silence. Several people had passed us, we kept shuffling to accomodate the street walkers and I was wishing I wouldn't have left my coat in the car. A couple times I thought it looked like he might say something. Maybe he was waiting to see if I had something to say only in the end I hit the button to unlock my car and raised my hand to wave goodbye. I didn't start crying until later that night and the next morning I woke up from a dream where he and another girl were coming in from out of town to meet me. Since it was a dream I couldn't tell if he and this other woman were friends, lovers or merely business associates. I ended up not meeting either of them, I think the dream was trying to tell me that the good old days were gone and they had taken the hurt along with them. I was free from whatever hold he had on me, I could move on and let go for good. My only problem now is I still don't know what I should do with his old business card or the friend request on Facebook.