Thursday, March 1, 2018


She's the weirdest tattooed-and-blued woman. The blue hair is there, check. Maybe I only imagine that the tattoos are showing, subtly, through a thin gauze blouse with a wide neckline. But there is something so weird about the way she is weird; she does it wrong, and she does it wrong on purpose.

Most people color their hair unexpectedly, or get tattoos, or get piercings or ever-increasing-gauge plugs, to rebel, to have cred for a subculture or attitude. To be indelibly and obviously - overtly - aggressively - Different. "I am apart, and this is how I am apart." She's done it because she is drawn to the colors she paints herself. And she's brought nonconformity in line with a taste level that's just off to one side of her corporate day job AND her penchant for the unusual.

She can conform neither to normality nor revolution.

It's hard, still, not to stare at her. In an airport full of corporate road warriors, kids, geriatrics, families, and military from all over the world, she's the oddest thing going. Not least because she is utterly still.

She's staring at me, of course. Transfixed in that way I knew once, almost a decade and a half ago - so much younger I think of that face as a girl's now, though she was mid-thirties even then. Her face is a rictus, contorted, both in relief and in pain.

There is a chain of beads around her neck, gleaming facets silver as mirrors breaking the smooth, wide swath of her skin between her strange, short hair and the gauzy blouse. Her throat, the sinuous line of her profile as she turns away a moment - the negative space around every part of her makes her seem small, even as her eyes seem bigger than I remember.

Nothing is, and everything is, as I remembered. All that luxuriant hair is gone, and the swirling strands that are left aren't even the right color. Her clothes seem hippie-ish; even knowing there was a bit of the flower child in her, she's never been that image in my head, that wasn't the her that I spent our time with. She seems taller, and darker, and softer, and stranger.

Everything strange, until I am next to her. And a fragment of scent steals toward me, and I know this is her. Something she wrote once... "Roses and pepper and honey and fear."

The airport asserts itself when she speaks, even as tiny as the verbiage is. "Hi."

I lean down to her, and ... Oh. To be against her. When my eyes are not on her, that's when she is most familiar, suddenly. *That* breathing. *That* curve of her back. My hands find their places on her hips without either of us negotiating. There is no kiss, and, for the moment, no more words. Something more elemental than greeting. There is some frisson, there is a release, there is some unbidden, sub-verbal thing. Reunion. I feel myself squeezing, and utterly still.

We stand there a minute, breathing. Randomly, I find myself laughing, because I can feel her smelling me, and I remember all the times she said, last time, "You smell like *you*." She also kept saying, "You are stupidly hot" just to be a dork.

That hair is silken at my jaw. She is sweet and spiced. Warm. Living space heater, she always was that, and all the grey and watery time we'ves spent, stolen visits since I went away, were warmed by her.

We don't look at each other. It's baggage claim.

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