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"If You Could Be" by David Hopkins
Angela and I dated five years ago. I can’t remember who stopped calling. Probably me. Fantasy Football and my post-college career demanded more time than I would ever admit. Commuting left me useless at the end of the day, and the responsibility of a career created this counter balancing force of sloth. I had enough energy to watch Sportscenter and drift through the Internet on my laptop. That was it. Discarded pizza boxes, DVDs, fast food wrappers, and unopened junk mail spiraled across my living room, originating from my couch like the Fibonacci sequence. Yeah, I flaked on dates.
In time, I acclimated to my job. I cleaned my apartment. I learned to cook meals for one. I sold my futon and bought real furniture. Life became a manageable process, not as daunting as people had always warned. If Angela and I had started dating in the summer, it would have been different.
I ran into Angela, much later at a 7-11, and the encounter appeared amiable. She smiled, gave me a hug, and asked about my life with genuine interest. We talked for a polite duration. She bought her coffee and left. Angela was beautiful and nice. I don’t know why we never got serious. I should have called her more.
We dated during Valentine’s with the unspecified rule of “keeping it casual” during this incommodious holiday. But I bought roses, yellow ones that she preferred to red. We went to this hippy restaurant I read about in a magazine. We dated on and off for a month. Eventually, we lost touch.
On those dates, I remember talking a lot about myself--my job, my life and my interests, my future. She nodded with the patience of an introvert who was happy for me to dominate the conversation. I rambled like an idiot at the slightest provocation, and she maintained eye contact encouraging me to say more.
I wish I had learned more about her. I wish I had more photos of Angela. Her face escapes me, and I can’t easily recall specific features. I remember she was slightly shorter than me and had thick brown hair, almost black. I wish I had some anecdote that spoke volumes about who she was. (“That’s so Angela.”) Something I could now share with her son. When he starts asking, I feel so damned empty handed.
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