I looked up and locked onto the sapphire eyes sparkling at me from beneath a swath of red hair. I grabbed the cold beer in my hand and stood up.
Here is the pause, a rest in the music. Did you ever have one of those moments that churn violently into a succession of other moments and suddenly you look up to find an unidentifiable slab of time has gone by? What happened to the red head? Where the hell was Ike? How did I get out of Dallas? These are all valid questions and everything is going to be revisited at some point, but this story has a pause, a beat in which there is a collective inhalation before moving on.
I opened my eyes this morning and my first thought was how cold the room was. I could feel the chill of the air on the tip of my nose as the rest of me was buried beneath two blankets and a comforter with a gray duvet cover. The light outside the window looked slightly hazy. I couldn’t tell if it was cloudy or possibly snowing.
I threw my right leg over the side of the bed and felt the immediate cold as if I had dipped it into a cool bath. I took a breath and slid out from underneath the covers, naked, and walked into the living room to turn up the heat. I then walked into the bathroom and turned on the small heater near the floor, stopping to crane my neck beneath the faucet to gulp down a few swallows of ice cold water. I raised my head up and stared at myself in the mirror. There were quite a few more gray hairs than there had been just a year ago. My beard, which once boasted a fiery streak of reddish brown on the chin, had given way to nearly white hairs. My eyes looked tired, weary from a lot of life being lived. Had I aged myself with the endless nights?
I splashed some water on my face, blinking into the mirror as the it dripped down my chin. It was a startling splash even though I knew it was going to be cold and I lazily toweled off my face then walked back into my bedroom. I found a hearty pair of some black sweats on the floor and put them on and then an old heather gray sweatshirt with moose on it. I walked back into the living room and opened the drapes to look over the mountains across the way. I was in Park City, UT – not visiting, but living.
I filled my teapot with water and turned on the gas flame on the stove, then placed the pot on top of it. I would start the day with fresh hot coffee. While waiting for the water to boil, I sorted through the stack of mail on the counter. There was an envelope addressed in neat, blue script to ‘Mr. Jackson Panic.’ It was her handwriting. She was the one person in my life who still insisted on writing letters. I looked over to the bookcase, at the frame that housed her photo, which was wedged between two books. You couldn’t quite make out her face but the red hair was easy to see, even from across the room.
Why was she once again in my mailbox?