I know that it is you, though it’s been 17 years. I recognize the tattoo on your calf. You always wear khaki cargo shorts. You are waiting with me and the other parents in the lobby of the elementary school to pick up your daughter when the final bell rings to dismiss students. I am flustered because you don’t belong in this town or state. I am gripping the handles of my jogging stroller shifting my son back and forth to keep him quiet. Do I want you to notice me and remember?
Jogging 2 miles in 80 degree weather has left my blue tank top damp and sticking to my skin. Your eyes graze over me with the indifference of a stranger.
You are not a part of my present. It’s a world I’ve crafted to avoid you and the others. Acknowledging you is acknowledging past mistakes I’ve moved on from. Embracing you would be reaching out to the old Jen I abandoned a long time ago.
The bell rings. I am still searching for your name, but I remember the details of our encounter. The bed of a Toyota pickup truck. A summer night in the Utah mountains. Neither of us realized June could be cold. Under a blanket. We merged our bare bodies for warmth. You divulged secrets about disappointing your family through chattering teeth.
I don’t know how I would begin to explain, I’m that random girl… Do you remember? I am afraidthat you’ve forgotten me. I am Laura in The Glass Menagerie. I’ve built a fantasy about our momentary intimacy. I want to have permanently changed you through our connection. I gained wisdom through my conquests. Scott? Bryan? Chris?
Through the moving backpacks, I watch as you kneel to hug a girl with curly, dark hair . You hold her hand as you exit the school. I say nothing.
I am anchored to the present as I feel arms around each of my thighs hugging me.
Mommy! Mommy! Let me tell you about my day!
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week – I used to joke with my husband that I have too many skeletons in my closet for him to run for political office. Secrets need to be told. Be brave. Tell someone you trust your biggest secret. Even if no one else who experienced it is still alive or remembers it, it doesn’t mean that it never happened. No matter how much you try to convince yourself. True story.
Bonus Points for sharing your secret in person.
Burdens are lighter when you share them.