I stand at the door to apartment four in the “blue building”, Emporia Kansas, address unimportant. Even at 20, I have the same nervousness of a teen on a first date. I swallow hard, putting on a fa�ade of confidence, and knock soundly on the veneer covered door.

At 17, I was a dreamer. I still am. The things I dreamed then accomplished or future goals; my dreams of today, goals of tomorrow. S was girlish at 20, a Disney aficionado, on the Student Senate at the local college, grounded. She was too good of a person to be dating a hotwired senior in high school hell-bent on escaping the midwestern cultural doldrums. In ways I never left.

During Christmas break, after my first semester of my second college year, I arranged to meet with S to renew our friendship, having seen each other once since we’d broken our relationship two years prior. An encounter so tension filled, it was hard to breathe. However, when she walked into the vestibule at my fast-food pocket-change job, every nerve in my body exploded and instantaneously prodded me for not being the person I am now, then. S was a woman.

S opens the door to her apartment and throws her arms around my neck. Well aware that I made the five hour trip from school to home late last night. Leaving after my last final and room check, finally passing the last exit out of Springfield at shortly after ten o’clock at night to make our scheduled lunch date.

“What do you want to eat?” S inquires. On our first date, I’d taken her to eat Chinese, managing to find a decent restaurant in the booming metropolis of 30,000. I smile at her; silently hoping the business was still there.

Driving down 6th Street, my car showing remnants of last night’s frenzied move. For a friend I am willing to do several things, but what I attempted the night before was insane. Driving on six hours sleep, after getting trashed on tequila the preceding night. But this is different, S graduates the next day, I leave for Michigan in a week, the next time we would see each other unknown.

Seated and ordered, I scan the zodiological placemat. I am the rooster; coo coo ca choo. Habit, I should have it memorized the number of times I have eaten Chinese. Conversation is sparse, typical–the look in S’s eye that she is busily processing something.

We eat, S sans chopsticks, talking about graduation and Grad school. Staring at a couple of years left of undergrad, I am hell bent to move on. Very familiar in attitude, some things never change. By the time proper fortune cookie etiquette has been established and the bill taken care of, I am sure S had figured out what was coming next.

As we get back into the car, I asked S if she has anything else on her schedule for the day. She’s cleared it. It had been her idea to do “something crazy” when we had gone on first date. What we ended up doing was walking around Peter Pan Park amidst the others enjoying the late August weather.

“I think I know where we are going,” S says it, but doesn’t completely blow the ego-trip I have developed planning this day out. I pull back on to 6th taking it to Prairie then South winding my way around. “Here we are,” S apparently navigating now, manages to get it out before I have a chance to say anything, while parking the car on a side street adjacent to the Park.

Even for May the air is brisk and the slight overcast makes it even cooler. I grab S’s present out of the car. At least she had not spotted it! We walk along one of the well-beaten trails that lead around the pond. At the end of the trail is an alcove with a bronze statue of William Allen White, our destination.

In August, the position of the sun while it sets allows it to shine through a clearing and shimmer on the pond’s surface. A perfect vantage point of this spectacle is from White’s alcove, and where S and I had ended up sitting the first time we visited the Park. I was blabbering on, shoving my foot in my mouth over ACT scores, when I saw S shift uncomfortably. My reaction was instinct; I brushed S’s hair away from her face and leaned in…

S is sitting right under the ledge she’d been dangling her feet over when our lips first met, as I hand her Disney gift bag. S digs through it: a CD, Introduction to Meditation by Alan Watts, my chapbook, Lifesavers, crayons, and lastly a bag of marbles for when she lost hers in Grad school. Laughing, S also pulls out a computer speaker cord that had managed its way into the bag during my hasty dorm room cleaning. Three shades of red and in tears, I laugh right along with her, reminding myself to have a serious rethinking of preparation skills.

I notice her shiver before she says anything, and am ready to leave myself. This time there will be no piggyback ride, no holding hands, just walking side-by-side S’s graduation present suspended from her fingers. The moment should be bittersweet, when we had left the Park 3 years prior we were on the ascent of a new relationship, now we are looking at undeterminable gaps in being able to speak face-to-face. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I could have changed, maybe made S my dream. Would it have matter? I shake my head smiling, knowing that S and I will always exist in points of time.

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