Sunday, November 8, 2009

Craig was looking for a quick place to wait for the strange spell of summer rain to subside when he decided to duck into a magazine shop that he passed on 42nd Street. As he took cover he noticed his new shoes, soaked. He took a deep sigh, and headed to the “music” section. Craig’s eyes didn’t wander to the peripherals, he was focused. He knew the magazine he was looking for and went straight for it. The magazine shop had a few tables where people could sit and sift through the reading material before eventually deciding to buy it, or just place it back on the shelf for another magazine before eventually walking out without every buying anything. That was the beauty of places like this – that was the beauty of magazines in general. You didn’t have to sit down and invest endless afternoons into character’s that were just going to let you down or die in the end, you could just sift through, pick out things that interest you, and then put it back on the shelf. No investment, no attachment. That’s the way Craig liked things theses days. As he grabbed the issue of the magazine he chose and headed to one of tables, his eyes noticed someone else for the first time since he had entered the shop. There was a woman of about 25, Craig suspected, sitting reading an issue of “Bust” magazine. As his eyes darted around to the other tables, he noticed they were all full, so he sat across from the cute twentysomething. She had dark skin and almond eyes and she reminded Craig of someone. She reminded Craig of another life, with another dark skinned, almond eyed girl, in another magazine shop.

Craig was still in college, he was visiting Olivia in the city during her internship. She was going to be a big shot photographer for the magazines and he was going to be an important writer for them. They were the perfect team in every sense. They each were so young and full of passion, it was boiling out of them. They were both young enough to still feel like they had purpose and they thought they could see it in each other. They were running through the streets of New York in the summer, getting soaked from a spell of summer rain when the ducked inside a magazine shop for safety. Craig’s canvas shoes squeaked from being so wet, and Olivia laughed. Craig laughed back. Olivia pulled Craig’s hand as they rushed to the endless stacks. They hid behind issues of MAD magazine and cheap gossip rags and would make up stories about all the squares sitting at the tables. Cindy from accounting was reading an issue of Men’s Health to give her obese boyfriend Randy some diet tips…and to read up on what guys really want in the bedroom. Stan the business executive was reading Under the Radar to impress his hipster niece he was trying to bang, inbred yuppie scum. They laughed and took trashy quizzes in issues of Cosmo. But after a while, they made their way to the magazines they really wanted to read. After a while, each had a magazine and made their way to a table and sat and read.

Then they wouldn’t speak, they would sit opposite the other, intensely reading and looking at the photographs. It was as if they were studying. They read articles and articles and articles in complete silence, each maybe cracking a half smile, or exchanging the slightest of glances to subtly let the other know they had just liked a line they had read or really approved of a photograph they had seen. Occasionally the silence would be broken for Craig or Olivia to tell the other about an article they thought the other would like…but only if they thought the other would like it. Neither would break to share something they merely thought was interesting, for all the articles they read they thought were interesting, that’s why they read them, that was the beauty of magazines. Not only were they specialized already, but you didn’t need to waste your time reading something you didn’t like, you could just invest in what you wanted to. They knew each other well, and would share articles on what the thought the other liked. It was truly bliss. They sat effortlessly, indulging in what each loved and sharing the images and words they thought were most special. They didn’t need to fill the airspace with incessant conversation that would come up in time anyway and eventually fill the air stale until they would choke on it. In those days they could just sit in silence and indulge themselves in their passion, in the things that they each loved, and do it together. And it was perfect. The two of them stayed in there for hours, long after the rain stopped.

But that was a different lifetime ago, Craig thought. The thirty year old bachelor defined love much differently these days. But then again, perhaps that was Craig’s problem. These days Craig had a pretty set definition of what love was, he put it in his terms and he demanded them. But perhaps this was a result of Craig’s job, so it wasn’t completely his fault. Back then, Craig didn’t really define love, he didn’t have to, and it just kind of happened to him, it unraveled like a ball of yarn. It was defined through those moments, so in a sense, love became defined through hindsight. It was difficult to communicate in words; they saw it through gestures, in passing moments. Through the perfect silence at the table, exchanging the infrequent glance and indulging in a photograph. But they were young, and not blessed with hindsight. So instead of putting these moments in mason jars and appreciating them like fireflies, they let them pass each other by, tossing each perfect moment away in hopes of the next fleeting moment of bliss. They didn’t pin it down like a butterfly and marvel at its beauty, fully appreciate the elaborate symmetry and patterns on its back. Instead they were careless with their love, like all young people are. And eventually it fizzled and cracked and dried up.

Craig looked up from his magazine and noticed that the beautiful woman across from him had gone. As he looked towards the door, he saw she was on her out of the store and that it had stopped raining. Craig stood up, put his magazine back on the rack and went back outside to the cruel streets and back to work.

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