Posted by: shelliejelly | May 12, 2008

Dear K.

I don’t know if I ever told you, though I think I probably did, that I had received offers from graduate programs in both Washington state and Ohio. Stuck in Minneapolis, a city that leeched every ounce of happiness from me, I looked around my studio apartment and at my black labrador and knew I didn’t want to be in a place where I’d have to fly home. Avery, the lab, wouldn’t have done well on a plane, she didn’t even have the stomach for a car ride, and I just couldn’t bear another long stint away from home, not as depressed as I was at the time.

So I chose Ohio.

At the time, it seemed nothing more than a decision of convenience. No plane rides to visit home for the holidays, no staying in place because I couldn’t afford to make the trip. I’d done both of those things while studying at Bard, and I can still remember the loneliness of a deserted campus, how I’d wander around and see next to no one, as though I’d been asleep through a disaster and had woken up to nothingness.

Looking back, however, Ohio was anything but coincidence. I belonged there, despite the lower stipend they offered, and any doubt I ever entertained vanished when we met. I can still remember you walking down the stairs, greeting my friend, S., who had come back to school early from Christmas break and spent some time playing pool in the bar where you were working. “This is my friend, Michelle,” she told you. “Nice to meet you,” you said to me, reaching for my hand.

S. would have no way of knowing what she started that night of innocent introductions. In her eyes, you weren’t anything more than a nice person who worked at a bar she liked — you weren’t in a graduate program, that is, and so couldn’t be seen for more than the sum of his parts.

But I knew better. And, thankfully, so did you.

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