Our life these days, it’s really something.
We meet in front of the train station after work. I’m always half an hour early and I end up killing time looking at people come and go. Then V shows up, tired and grumpy and squinting his famously less than perfect eyes to place me in the crowd. I enjoy it, this moment when I alone know how many slabs of concrete and pairs of shoulders stand between us, when I can decide what face to put on, whether to scare him or surprise him or act like nothing happened, like I couldn’t tell he was lost and confused for once, even for only a tenth of a second. We walk the Broadway together talking. I’ll miss this place, I say. They broke into our flat here, remember, V says, and I do, remember it I mean. But I’ve also been very happy here.
We reach our pizzeria. The tiniest of places, half a dozen tables and the oven. A pack of waiters who always approach you in Italian and the best Calzone I’ve ever tasted. We order takeaway. There’s no room to wait inside, so we stand on the sidewalk by the terrace, sipping our half pints. It’s been the most beautiful of summers, hasn’t it? Remember when we used to come by this place with Carmen and the guys? She always managed to get us a table, wasn’t she something? I wonder what she’s doing now, V says, though we both know the answer to that. She’s gone back to Spain, she’s lost and found a couple of jobs, she’s been bruised and shaken by another man, yet she could probably still get us a table anywhere in the world.
We take our pizzas to the park. We sit in the grass. It’s thick and soft like the fur of a healthy animal, despite the hot summer we’ve been having. Maybe they replace it overnight V says, and I laugh. Here’s the reason I’m still rooted into this country. This green. Evenings like this, when people have their dinners in the field, telling their endless stories and drinking wine straight from the bottle.
We’re not happy, you know.
We both pretty much hate our jobs. Some of our closest friends are leaving the country, and as hard as I’m trying not to sound too fatalistic, we may very well never see them again. Things are changing with us. We’re hopefully but who knows getting a flat of our own soon, which will not only leave us penniless but tied to one another by things made of bricks and concrete which, who knew, are more difficult to undo than a metal band on your ring finger. It still scares me sometimes, years and years later, that I’ve found and been found and this is what we are now, a family of sorts.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we’re not OK, not entirely. That we’ve got worries and fears and pieces that don’t fit anymore, that we’re willingly or less so leaving places, and people, and hapinesses we wish we could keep, to make room for who knows what, really. And that’s terrifying.
We lie in the grass, oily pizza boxes piled by our side, passing a bottle of raspberry cider between us. It’s in this neighborhood that I first tasted cider years ago, around a wooden terrace table and a tea light in a jar, and I never looked back. We should get a dog, V suddenly says, his eyes following a tennis ball and a wagging tail. It’ll ruin our new carpeting, I find myself thinking, but it really doesn’t matter, does it?, we’ll replace it over night like they must do with the grass here, it’ll be just fine. We should, we’d be great dog people, I say. Then I shut my eyes.