Saturday, 21 February 2015
The cold air shears the night in two as the doors concertina open. I have been sitting near the front. I shoulder my rucksack and nod to the driver. Step from the bus. Another bus, different emotions. Another beginning. Another end. That day when she'd questioned me about the Paris trip had been on my mind. It was as if the two bus trips were bookends and between them was the story of Moon and me.
Moons words haunted my thoughts as the miles had ticked by, metronomic. The 'terror' of what I faced at the end of the trip was bad enough to produce an anxious state but her words, her rejection and my reaction were magnified with mounting embarrassment and sadness as I churned them over, squirming in my seat, unable to rest.
The last time I see her, sitting in the park yesterday afternoon, our conversation goes from light to dark, from talk of final exams, leaving home, of college to 'us', so quick I feel like I do when I try to ice-skate. Uncertain, wobbly and then...in a moment of silence, she holds me at a distance, her hands in mine. Crack.
'Give it up Goat, say you'll give it up. Give up on the idea of you and me? It is crazier than the man in the moon.' Her smile is there as always. Moon smile, but plaintive, a cloud across it. Her words etch a crack in my heart. I hear myself say 'no' a lot, say 'why' a lot. I feel my cheeks grow hot, become wet. Her eyes betray concern. She holds me, puts her arms around me. Soothes me as if I were a child but there is no doubt. She is ending 'it', ending 'us'. I rub my eyes dry, use a few choice words, call her a bitch, told her to go screw herself and worse. A pause and then for some reason we are both laughing and rolling around on the grass.
'You will write,' I say when we have calmed down.
'Of course Goat,' she beams.
I know she won't.
Moon is ending 'us'. But what was us really? A shared diary that had sustained us through senior high; helping each navigate the lows and the highs (remember the Paul and Dan episode Moon?); weekends and evenings at each other's houses when I marvelled at her parents' prosperity, and was in awe of her bedroom, walls plastered with her amazing art; sleepovers when post 2 am I would whisper fervid loyalties to her sleeping back; and, lately, the tortuous coffees at our favourite cafe over which we discussed our different college plans and I'd wrack my brain for a template that meant they would not steal the pearl of our friendship, be the end of us.
My 13-hour journey from upstate New York to DC is over. Moon and me are over. Outside the station, I blink into the milky grey. Lights still sparkle in the sky but eastways an uncertain blue presages the dawn.
Moon is going to study Law in NYC and I am in Washington for an interview at an art college. Graphic design. Funny how it worked out. In the three years I'd known her she'd opened my mind to art, shown me I could draw. And I'd helped her out with her sciences, heavy 'boring' stuff like essays! You never know where the river will take you but it won't take you anywhere unless you trust it, as my Gran used to say. When it came to study, I'd followed my passions rather than what I was really good at. I know my parents are worried but they hide it well. I hope Moon is also following her heart. Yes, of course she is, she always is.
Yesterday. In the park. After we hug forever, I watch her walk away. She stops, turns, six feet from me. 'Hey Goat, don't wish for the Moon, the stars will bear you up.' I watch her walk away.
In a cab. On the way into the city. I look out of the window at the fading stars. Emerging from behind a cloud, a silvery disk winks at me before disappearing into the morning. I feel abandoned but see the blessing in it.
Copyright Gabrielle Goldsmith 2015