I tried to create a face. It wasn’t one to replace my own, or even one made of imagination. The face I was reaching out for was one that holds a place in history I couldn’t ever possibly explain.

I wish I could say that there was something life-changing or monumental that caused me to think about this person. But, the truth is is that it most likely came to me due to a misfire of a series of chemicals in my head, which was most likely caused by a glass too many of wine. It did come to me at a pivotal moment though, the point when I had to decide to lay my head down to sleep or to continue my drinking. If this hasn’t made it obvious enough I’ll spoil it for you, I chose the latter.

it came on like you’d imagine these things would: Softly and silently, trying its best not to alert me to its presence. At first I was mislead, I thought for sure that the features I was thinking about belonged to at least a dozen others who would’ve made far more sense than the one that came to me eventually.

I wish I could say it was a pleasant arrival. But to be honest the shock of its appearance dominated my perception of the whole ordeal. I wanted to think of it as something other than a fluke but I just couldn’t find the justification for the memory. I eventually came to terms with the reality that the nose, and eyes, and mouth, and ears, and chin that were drawing themselves with invisible hands in the place in my head that I try not to admit exists too often.

See, I have reason to believe that this face no longer belongs to this world. it no longer weaves its way through crowds of people in a city, nor does it act as the solitary witness to the confessions of trees. I don’t want to believe it, but I can’t help but think that this person and their face belongs now to the dirt and an ether I’m not fully convinced exists. Which terrifies me because I’ve never once dwelled on the way the dead blink or how they smile at the strangest things.

I don’t even know if I got the details right. I’m sure there’s a picture somewhere, buried in a shoebox or a computer folder that I’ve long forgotten about. Yet, I couldn’t be bothered to do that type of searching, because honestly, it might’ve proven my imagination wrong. I’m not saying I didn’t search, because dear god I did. I just wasn’t disappointed to find proof of the face in a place that belonged to me.

Yet, regardless of all my beliefs the face came to me anyways. And with it it brought a host of other thoughts too trivial and useless to mention. But with those futile aspects, I had a desire to discover. I wanted to be proven wrong, I wanted to find a sign of life. if for no other reason to be confident in my ignorance of the situation. So, I did what all idiots do when they need answers, I went to the internet.

I tore through all of the digital means that I could think of without any results that satisfied me. I found nothing, not a single trace, which was just unacceptable, yet it was the conclusion that I was forced to deal with. No confirmation one way or the other. Just more possibilities, probabilities, and a slew of other imaginary qualifiers.

The real sad part to this whole thing is that I had no intention of renewing contact or even revealing myself in any way. I didn’t want to know how the hours and seconds that make up this life were treating her. I didn’t want to know what new music she was listening to, that would’ve surely changed my life. I didn’t want to know about her husband who I’m sure must’ve appeared, assuming that she survived the things that would’ve made that impossible. To be completely honest, I’m not sure what I hoped to achieve by seeing that face in a place other than my head.

My best guess is that I wanted to latch onto something from my personal history that wasn’t a slave to my unreliable mind. But I’m not even sure it’s that either. There’s a part of me that believes that I’m truly a selfish person and I simply wanted to see something that proved that the world didn’t turn without me signing off on it. I wanted to see a face trapped in a limbo, awaiting me to give it the go ahead to pass on to someone else’s imagination.

Lessons From A Main Street Café- Orange Juice

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to sit and languish in the safety of a café. In fact, it’s been even longer since I’ve been to that old place where I first wrote one of these essays. Granted that has more to do with a series of ownership changes and a particularly devastating kitchen fire than time management. The other day though, I managed to crawl my way into a variation of my old haven. But I wasn’t alone.

My girlfriend had decided to join me as I lazily enjoyed my breakfast in the warmth of another person’s establishment. I want to emphasize the warmth aspect of the café we found ourselves in. because to be blunt, it’s been a wicked winter this year. The wind has blown hard and frigid and the only snow we’ve received is just the amount needed to make things stark rather than clean and fresh. The harshness of the cold has been made even more real by the fact that my furnace has chosen that it simply couldn’t continue living, if living meant experiencing one more Wisconsin January. I can appreciate that, although I don’t think I would’ve taken the same drastic approach to escape the sub-zero weather, a warm café is enough for me.

There wasn’t much to be said about walking into the café, our path to our booth was that of steadfast determination and singular desire. There was no time for letting the room wrap around us as those sorts of country restaurants deserve. In a strange change of pace, I didn’t order coffee. Instead I opted for a tall glass of orange juice, just as my girlfriend had done. In another strange change of pace for me, I was not in a search for inspiration. My eyes weren’t cast out hoping to latch onto some revelation about the universe hidden in the scratches of the well worn tables. The thoughts of my new journal and its thirsty pages or this blog were lost among the blustering banshee winds outside. It was just my girlfriend, me, and two glasses of orange juice. That’s when I noticed we were both wearing our jackets.

Now let me explain. The fact that we were wearing our jackets wasn’t the most important thing about the moment. It was simply what took me by the hand and pulled me to what I needed to see that day. I was preparing to make a silly comment about the fact that our winter gear was still wrapped around our bodies when I saw my girlfriend sitting there, her nose red as the blood came back to her face. Her cheeks flushed with the touch of newfound heat. See, I need you all to understand something. I’ve seen this woman in ever state of dress and undress there can be and by far she was wearing more clothes the other day than I had seen her in in years. Yet, she was more beautiful there, wrapped in her jacket and hat than in any moments when there was nothing at all covering her.

I tried to figure out why in that tick of the clock, in that particular café, with two glasses of orange juice, and the promise of greasy food, she looked so beautiful to me. It dawned on me that it was the cold, the unyielding bastard that had been haunting us for months. We had both been assaulted by the lack of degrees and in a moment of necessity and desperation we went to that café, together.

Eventually we had to venture back into the cold, and back to our house that wasn’t much warmer, but before we left I looked back and saw that both glasses of orange juice had been finished, and for some reason, that’s all that mattered to me.