carroll

Whenever he returned, they had a ritual both of them liked to follow: She would pick him up at the airport and they’d go directly to a café near her apartment that served excellent coffee and fresh bakery goods. He usually arrived very early in the morning so when they got to the café the same people were often there: a group of young mothers sitting at the big table who had dropped their children off at the school across the street. A few singles here and there reading newspapers or working on laptop computers. Couples playing hooky from the day who had clearly just climbed out of bed. They wore that sleepy happy complicit look of having shared a night of secrets and busy together. While waiting for their order, she would hold both of his hands and fill him in on her latest news. He especially loved those very first minutes together in the sun-drenched café hearing her talk. While listening carefully he was re-learning her face, voice, and gestures all over again. He knew them by heart of course having memorized so many of her details. When they were apart he went over them again and again in his mind. But this was different. After time away, those first hours together again were like the first moments in your home after returning from a trip. Everything is as familiar as the skin on the back of your hand but somehow new too at the same time. You stand there looking around at that most familiar space, remembering things, noticing, inhaling again the singular perfume of home; all the things large and small gathered and formed into your life.

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