Swan Song

I’m supposed to say goodbye, but I don’t know how.

She twirled against the yellow light, her white dress burning against the austere backdrop. Her fingers twitched and her arm curled, a moth to the flame. Virginia is my flame, the luminescent glow that called to me, even as a teen. I chased it, wrapped up in the soggy blanket of May humidity and felt home, home, home.

I sank in to my M street office and felt big in the city, listened to countless motorcades siren past. Window washers blared World Cup matches, and I echoed the cries of “goooaaal” down the blue carpet hallway. I was kick-back, legs up on my desk chatting up a friend miles away – mice will play – when George McGovern wandered into my office. My feet came down with a clatter, the phone missed its cradle, and I completely blanked on my name. Star struck.

I made my home on rotting wooden floors between lavender walls. I trudged up 13th street, that hill forever and that beautiful brick building looming. I drowned under unending needs and learned to swim between fights and fires and the constant whiff of skunky weed. I perched on an unstable stool behind a laminate table rippled with carved in names from decades. A creamy black hand held my wrist as she worked out proofs, and we both tried to prove something for the other.

This part is the hardest. The recent that is the foundation of my life here, built daily on 30 stolen minutes huddled on a splintered curb soaking in sun and dreading the distant echo of the bell. On endless grand plans, half of which never came to fruition, all of which are intoxicating to dream up. Gatsby on the river, Dracula for Halloween, Flashdance and jeans, 80s and legwarmers, sister wives and the beach, Tios and tequila, Los Toltecos and karaoke, Union Street for the cold, Magic Mike to get warm, Pitch Perfect to celebrate, snow days and long lunches, bowling for tradition and friends and friends and friends and friends.

I’m supposed to say goodbye, but I don’t know how.


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