Atlanta-Hartsfield is a huge airport. Four big terminals and a light rail setup inside to zip you in and around. Lots of moving sidewalks and electronic voices to warn and reassure you. Not an cyber owl in sight, however. Its a place to get lost, not found.

So, yes I was surprised to bump into her at gate 43. She had her head down and was trying to slide her briefcase under one arm while she rolled her stowaway toward the check in counter.


"Yes, well, how the heck are you?" I tried to appear amused and pleased, just because its what she would expect from me. We had not spoken in 12 years. No letters, no emails, nothing in that time.

Marybeth and I had lived together both in college and those confused hyperkinetic first months after graduation. Two lousy jobs, two beat up cars and one unmade bed. We ate cheap food, shopped at thrift stores and enjoyed coffee and on sale ice cream more than the law allowed

But that was before. Before I went off to Grad school and she went south to Texas to get wealthy.

One of us needs a real job, one of us needs to earn a living.

Was it a reflection of who I was, the career I had chosen? We both knew teaching was leading to a life of near poverty. I took the words as indication of the importance she placed on income, and the relative unimportance of US. I had no idea if she even remembered the conversation, but it was the last of her words. I wished she had followed it up with a "goodbye" or a "take care" but she didn't. She made her point, turned away and got on the plane to Dallas.

"Here we are again" I said, as if it was 12 days between conversations.

It's a different airport...How are you? You look great!

She looked tired, but truly happy to see me. I couldn't relate. We made small talk for about five minutes, but I could see her checking her watch over and again. Quick glances down, then back up. The way she used to watch the alarm clock in the mornings, stretching out our minutes in bed before she would run to class. It was wonderful then. Then.

"Hey, don't miss your flight, OK? It was great to see you! Drop me a line sometime, maybe? "

She seemed relieved and started to get out a scrap of paper to write down my address.

"It's the same," I whispered "I haven't moved."

She dropped the pen, surprised, but grabbed it before it hit the carpet, regaining her composure. Oh, OK... well, great then, gotta go...

An awkward lean forward and a quick kiss on my cheek and she was off. Looking earnest and serious, the way she always imagined I might be. I guess. I'll probably never know. See, its been a month since I saw her and no letters have arrived. I never considered the possibility that maybe she didn't remember the address. Some people have the ability to forget painful details, I guess.

for oenone

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