Wednesday, May 19, 2010

That's Im Poss

I guess it's just someone who looked a lot like I remember you do

Gretchen lived in a castle. Behind a moat. Fortified by alligators.

Okay, maybe not.

But Gretchen lived in the urban equivalent -- an art-deco apartment building whose penthouse had stained-glass windows. Up a steep winding hill. With no on-street parking.

And she knew all the local restaurants. Owners would greet her by name when she came in. Chefs would prepare her off-menu sampling menus.

The owner of the convenience store would give her flowers from the day before and she'd stick them in her hair.

She owned that city. But she didn't know it.

Everyone she was with knew it. But God help you if you mentioned it -- she hated talking about it, hated thinking about it.

She drove a 40-year-old European convertible that her mechanic had rebuilt nearly from scratch. She knew nothing about cars but everything about obscure tropical fruit.

And she'd sit up in the castle (okay, her second-story apartment in the art-deco building far below the penthouse) and sketch street scenes in half-filled sketch pads.

Everyone who spent time with her thought she was amazing. Because when you were around her, anything was possible.

Then she'd vanish. For weeks on end.

The restaurant owners would ask me about her because they'd seen us together once. And I didn't know anything, so I had nothing to say.

Then she'd come back -- convertible overflowing with exotic souvenirs from somewhere I could never spell that she'd pronounce perfectly. And the neighborhood would swell and flow back towards her. And for a while, everything seemed fine.

For a while, everything was possible again.

Until Gretchen vanished one last time. And took the convertible with her.

The chefs looked downcast whenever I'd see them. The mechanic sighed loudly and turned back to the brake job on the '88 Saab. And the convenience-store flowers turned brown and wilted out in the dumpster.

The castle was eventually torn down. But she never came back.

I moved across town. To an area whose streets weren't pulsing with memories of when she'd walked on them. To a street where some things were definitely impossible. To a place where the chefs didn't know her... and didn't know what they were missing.

I'd still sometimes think I saw Gretchen -- but she never reappeared. Eventually I left the city. Years later, she still appears every once in a while in the corner of my eye. And I still sometimes sense she's been here. But whenever I look around, she's gone.

Almost, but not quite, without a trace.


Anonymous said...

"Heartbeats and Triggers" baby. Thanks for the mid-80s flashback!

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Excellent, excellent! And also fitting would be No More Looking Back, with that "& just when I think you're out of my head, I hear a song that you sang or see a book that you read -- then you're in every bar, you're in every cafe; you're driving every car, I see you everyday."