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Sunday May 21, 2000, 18:02

As an explanation for my current mindset, we must set the stage. I am sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon. My ceiling is pounding with the sounds of my upstairs neighbors bowling or moving furniture or something similar. They do this every Sunday. I left Rachel at the Greyhound terminal. She is presumably still on a bus to New York right now, or perhaps she has made it to New York and is on her way back to Harrisburg. I knocked on the glass and waved to her before she got on the bus. She turned around, Beowulf in her hand, and smiled and waved before bounding up the stairs.

This was the second time I've seen her in my entire life. The first time was nine months ago.

I left the station and took the T to Park Street where I decided that I would get out and make Boston prove to me that it doesn't suck. So I walked through the Common, through the Public Garden, and down the street to Marshall's.

The city said nothing to me.

Marshalls, however, told me to buy some vinyl pants, which I man now wearing, just for the experience of wearing vinyl pants on a Sunday afternoon. These pants make me look so sexy. It's amazing, really.

The weekend was spent with friends from college, in a house by the beach in Connecticut. Again, I was reminded how much fun it is to have people around, in a group, who are all artists, who are all funny, who are all my friends, and who are all incredibly smart. Seriously, it's been a while since I was in that situation.

We went for a walk down the beach that night. Friday night. It was late, and two of our friends had already fallen asleep on the couch. It was cold, and had been raining all day. A walk along the private beach, pairing up, conversations happening. I, of course, complained about my life, but not too much so I'd like to believe. Just enough to spark some conversation. I was overly-aware of how boring I was getting all weekend and made it a point to listen to what other people had to say and be genuinely listening, because I know how shitty it is to tell as story and realize that your audience doesn't care if you were even breathing, let alone talking.

We saw a ... what is that? In the distance on the public beach (public and private being divided by a chain-link fence which didn't go all the way to the top of the beach or down to the water and which could have been, and was, easily circumevented) was a ... oh my, it really is an airplane sitting nose-first in the sand.

We walked, the seven of us, to the airplane (i remember it was seven because the pairings were always two two and three or two two two and one with the three and the one, respectively, not being actual pairs but in fact pairs with an extra person) where we noted debris scattered around the beach including the seat from the plan a good twenty feet away from the actual plane.

I rounded the plane, noting that there was no sand displaced in front of the plane, which means that there was no crash, and Eric noted that the wings were strapped together with webbing, meaning that someone had actually placed the plane there.

We would then go up to the new carousel and sit on horses until someone would note that we should go back to the plane to see whether, just to make sure, of course, there was nobody in it. There wasn't. And in fact the entire fuselage was empty. This was obviously a fake. Or something.

There was a race to tower (10? I don't remember.) which I would have run but which Eric beat me up to the top of, as I missed the ladder. Drat. I later jumped off the tower and made big foot prints in the sand. Nobody else jumped and I either felt very cool or very foolish. But we piled everyone up on the tower ("Guys," she said, "we never get more than four people up on this tower," after we got all seven up. We watched the moon, and the lighthouses in the distance, the clouds in the sky.

Imagine, someone had said, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean every night.

The following day was a walk in a state park, my reaffirmation of my hate for the game of Taboo (though I turned out to be not as bad as it as I expected in practice rounds). I had a sticker placed on my head which read "beard." It was slightly amusing in the state which we all occupied at the moment, that state being one of delerium.

And then I took the train back to Boston. And on the train (I having just moved up one more car because the one right after the cafe car was too warm) there was a girl, a woman?, sitting in the seats with the sign that say "Reserved for Handicapped passengers." But she had a lot of bags so I guess it was ok. There was a yellow over the shoulder GAP bag on the seat next to her. She was wearing a light blue long-sleeved shirt, with a pink short-sleeved one over it. And jeans. And her hair was back in a pony tail and I couldn't help but watch her as she sat cross-legged facing the window as the train travelled north in the dark and I saw the reflection of her face in the window from across the aisle.

And what I should have done what I was thinking would have been really appropriate at that moment was for me to have gone up to her and said something to the effect of "I really would like to have a conversation with you, one without any context at all which will spawn from the fact that we are both attractive young people travelling on the same train to the same destination."

And this conversation would have been wonderful because she would have put down her issue of Time Out New York (tres chic) and would have begun talking and we would have had wonderfully interesting things to say to each other and is it quite obvious that I'm reading the Dave Eggers book these days? and it would have been just this magical meeting of two minds who instantly clicked and became best friends for the duration of the trip where she would tell me about her boyfriend whom she was going home to and I would laugh and she would laugh and we would flirt a bit because that's what young attractive people are supposed to do on trains.

Trains are really much sexier than airplanes. There are just so many people on trains, and there's the sound of the outside world rushing past. Town and crossing gates and other trains. You know you are in the world, but you are just blowing right by it. Airplanes are stuffing little cans of recycled air where there's a crying baby up in the front seat and a smelly man next to you. You can't get up and chat with the cute girl on the way back or to the cafe car because there are no separate cars on an airplane.

Travel by train is more expensive than flying much of the time, and it takes longer. But you can stretch out your legs and read a book, watching the blur of the trees open up to a vast expanse of water when the train passes over the little bridge, hardly a bridge, just some ballast and dirt built up over the water and you pass by and see the ocean in the distance and the moon rising up over it and then suddenly it's gone and there are more trees whizzing by and you look back down to your book glad to be on the train and not up in the air in a big tin can.

But I did not get up and talk to the cute girl. We shared a moment when the conductor came on and announced that "This is not Route 128. We are just waiting here momentarily until the other train passes. I will announce when we are getting near Route 128 so you can get ready to get ready to get off the train. But this is not Route 128. I will announce when we get to Route 128." I looked at the girl and she looked back at me and we chuckled and I could have said something interesting and funny, but I didn't, I just chuckled with her and then she went back to looking out the window.

And then we got to South Station. Actually, we got to the station stop before South Station and I was going to get off and walk to the train that would take me to my house but I saw that this girl was not getting off the train yet so I decided to stay on with the hopes that we would be going to the same place at which point I would be able to strike up a conversation.

That also did not happen and while we did end up on the same subway, I transfered and she continued on. I watched in the window in the hopes that she too would have felt the same connection as I felt and would look out the window at me so we could have a shared moment. But she didn't.

I made it home with only a small incidence of Boston convergence where I overheard (read: eavesdropped) a man's name and place of employment and his current situation of looking for a new job and realized that he was the man who had sent his resume to our office last week. And his brother graduates from Brown this year.

I do not really care to talk about him.

I will talk a bit about Rachel now. Rachel from whom I received a message yesterday telling me that she was giving up in about 40 minutes and was going to take the bus home and this was a voice mail on my cell phone that I received at 10:20 but which had been left at 9:20 when I was underground in the subway and I was kicking myself for not getting off the train earlier and walking to the subway that would take me home and instead staying on in hopes that this other girl would have a moment of recognition with me.

I was kicking myself and realizing that there's nothing I could do to change this situation even though I was lying in bed trying, willing with all my might, to send a telepathic message to Rachel wherever she was, to pick up the phone and call me (really, I did this) so I started reading my book again. And so, when at 11:15pm the phone rang and it was Rachel telling me that she was leaving in 45 minutes to go back home of course I told her NO! that she had to come out to visit me but that she was going to have to navigate the Boston transit system all by herself because by the time I got there the trains would have shut down and we would not have been able to get back.

So I waited for her with my book at the T stop outside my apartment as one, two, three trolleys went by and she was not on any of them until I saw her standing there, red hair and pale face, with an enormous (much too big for her) internal frame pack and she waved and I waved back and we hugged next to the tracks and we walked back to my apartment and just talked, like we did nine months ago. Though this time we actually got to sleep, me in my bed, her in a sleeping bag on my floor. And it was just like a slumber party, where we shut the lights off and still talked for another hour about random things like relationships and work and all that and then we woke up this morning and talked more and got breakfast at the only place resembling a coffee shop around here and then we went to the Bus terminal and we parted ways there, me knocking on the glass and her turning around to wave goodbye to me.

I still have a crush on this girl. It's really quite amazing. Some things never change.

But Simone is here now, and I haven't seen her since Thursday morning, so my weekend is just about as perfect as it could have gotten.

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