After fifteen-minutes of picking-up, examining and thoughtfully contemplating the aesthetic merits of various whiteboards, I chose one from the rack at a rather pricey $52. It would go well on the wall and its black trim would match my MacBook, I told myself. As you rang up my purchase I noticed the bright green numbers on the till’s screen read a meagre $27—almost half the total I actually owed. I thought about my next step carefully; I had the opportunity to say nothing and make off with more than enough money leftover for a quality six-pack and a hearty donair. The potential guilt weighed heavy on me, as if I was giving Andre the Giant a piggyback straight to hell. A childhood of Catholic Sundays forced me to awkwardly mumble my way through the explanation of the mix-up. But you let me know that it was in the system at that price so that was the price I’d pay. Jesus and my bank account smiled upon me.
I wasn’t sure why I started looking through the jackets. A thick, humid fog already hung stubbornly at face-level and I was sweating through the limited clothes I was wearing. As I checked the size on a spirited pink and black windbreaker, I noticed a pigeon strut through the open front door of the thrift store. It cocked its head from side to side as if looking for a certain aisle. This pigeon had the look of an old soul––a defiant senior searching for the perfect pleat. I pointed to the back of the shop where the slacks hung and it waddled its way past.
You came out from behind the counter and interrupted its passage. A few shoo’s and scrams got it near the door but its desire for functional fashion and pre-worn comfort drove it back in. It wasn’t until you grabbed the vivacious windbreaker from the rack and used it as a second-hand riot shield did the pigeon finally leave. I commented on your valor but was sympathetic towards the pigeon’s humble desire to wear clothes like the rest of us. “We don’t have anything in his size.” You said bluntly.
For days after you had told me you weren’t coming back, the strip of photos from the photo booth in Seattle stayed tacked to the wall above my computer. I tried to decide if I should throw it out, if I should be angry and how much so. Angry that after all of our time together, including the months I had awaited your return, I’d never even heard you fart––not once. That this other person might get to, or already had, and I wouldn’t have the chance. But most of all I was struggling to see things objectively; to find the right way to leave what we had, to wish you the best, to compartmentalize us into “past,” and to decide whether it was right to continue using your Netflix account. And none of the ill-placed jokes I made were helping. I took the photos off of the wall and slid them under a shoebox in the closet where they would stay until I knew.