Verb (used with object). The act of saving someone from a dangerous or distressing situation.
It has been nearly nine months since the last box full of things we thought mattered was removed from one house, and placed inside another. Not quite an entire year, but the same amount of time it takes, on average, to go from conception to delivery. Today, we are not celebrating birth. Through a series of electronic means, you have agreed to meet me in person in the late afternoon at a cafe a few blocks from your new office. School is back in session. According to the calendar, fall is coming soon, but the leaves have yet to turn. The temperature refuses to acknowledge the forthcoming change of season, clinging to 76 degrees. We play along and order our coffees iced.
I notice today’s date on the receipt, the anniversary of one of the worst days in American history. We avoid talking about how we are creating new histories of our own, speaking in short, safe sentences, a stack of paper serving as our centerpiece.
“The new gig… it’s good.” It comes out as a statement I want you to agree with, rather than the question I intended to ask.
“I’m getting used to it.” You shrug. “The different pace. The travel. Sometimes I wake up in my hotel, and I am not sure where I am.”
Because I don’t know if this will, in fact, be the last time I ever see you in person, I try to make as much direct eye contact as possible, but your gaze is a revolving door. You cannot decide if you want to enter, yet consider doing so every three-quarters of a turn.
“I know the feeling,” I say, then pause and sip. The cafe is growing more full. “Do you ever see strangers who seem to be together, and wonder how they know each other?”
And this time, for just the briefest moment, you don't look away.
Later that night, I watch a documentary about the destruction. Familiar footage of planes turned into missiles, the first tower falling, then the next. The plumes of smoke filled with former lives, the dust of dead souls, suffocating the streets. When the buildings have completely crumbled and disintegrated, the film flashes back to an image of a time when the two still stood intact. How it once was, what is now no longer there. Before and after.
We are here and gone. We are suffocating. We can no longer breathe.
I think about rescuing you.
I remember that I left you behind.