Four years ago today, the first of the year, I met you unexpectedly. I was only here in Austin for a small handful of days, my escape from the miserable New York winter where auditions bruised my ego and my canine best friend inched towards the end of her life.
The night before, I’d kissed a lot of people at a wild party. I’d done cocaine for the first (and only) time, I’d gotten high and drank whiskey. As someone who rarely dances on the edges, an addict of moderation, I felt bold and warm and full . When I went to sleep that night, I felt my heart beating fast for hours before dreams finally truly took me.
That day, the first of the year, I’d woken up and made cinnamon buns from scratch for the first (and only) time for the house full of friends and my ex. We started the day with champagne. 2014 and we were alive.
In New York my roommate kept saying she wanted to set me up with sexy ladies she knew. “Just give me until 2014,” I kept saying. “I’ll be ready next year.”
Come afternoon in the southern city, my rowdy crew piled out of a pickup truck, onto the Lamar pedestrian bridge, when I heard my name. “Alexis?” I turned around and saw two women I’d never met looking at me with recognition. “It’s Court,” one said. “And this,” gesturing to the other, to you, “is Erika. From Circle.”
Ah. Yes. I had been seduced by a friend into what I hoped was a good idea. A financial exchange among women, mostly artists, counteracting patriarchal systems like capitalism. Those of us who had joined spoke weekly for one hour, checking in about our dreams and desires and challenges. We were all over the country, but a good number were in Austin. I’d mentioned on our last call that I’d be in town for a few days over New Year’s. Court knew what I looked like from social media.
And there you were. Erika, in the flesh. I’d known your voice — a hearty, rich voice that articulated the ends of words. I knew you’d been on a new journey of teaching yoga, shifting your life to accommodate a new schedule and passion. You were easing into being a teacher. I didn’t know about the ocean in your eyes.
You know what happens next. We walked together and talked and you made a point to say you dated women and I said I did too and something was ignited whether or not we both knew that it had happened for the other. You told me later you walked away shaking your head, saying “no no no, this is not the time for that.” You’d been…