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done this before

I keep looking back at your picture. I’ll flip it over to stop from staring at it while I read a page from my book, but a minute won’t pass before I’ll have to turn the photo over again to see your face. It’s as if I can’t get away from it.

My flight was delayed, I’m at O’Hare Airport, the airport that departs three planes every second, or is it one plane every three seconds, oh shit, I don’t remember. I have to wait at least three hours for my next flight, hey, if so many planes take off here, then why can’t I get on one of them? Oh well, so I decided to waste my time in one of the airport cocktail bars, by gate L 4. I thought I’d start with a white zinfandel and work my way to mixed drinks, but this wine tastes so good that I think I might just have to have another. I’m so exasperated, I hate to wait, and all I have is a good book to keep me company. I used your photo from my wallet as a bookmark. I need these things to keep me sane.

It really isn’t bad here in the cocktail bar by gate L 4, the chairs aren’t that uncomfortable, even though they’re a pretty ugly shade of green that doesn’t match anything in the room. It really isn’t that bad, in a foreign city, in a foreign airport. Not when I’ve got my Sutter Home White Zinfandel. And my picture of you.

You know, there’s a blonde girl dressed well with a bad perm across the bar, and she’s smoking a cigarette. I know I don’t smoke, but I’m almost tempted to ask her for one just so I can hold the cigarette the way you do. I’d like to taste the tar, the nicotine, the way I taste it in your kiss. You think I don’t like it, but I do.

They’re playing a song in the cocktail bar, a song that reminds me of an ex. I wanted to marry that man. He had a knack of being able to envelope me, to take my troubles away. I don’t know if I can take away my troubles myself anymore. I don’t know if the liquor’s helping, or the cigarettes. Your photo helps, my little bookmark. At least for now it helps.

Sitting in this L 4 cocktail bar reminds me of my brother. When I was young he’d always pick us up at the airport, but if he wasn’t waiting at the gate we knew to look for him at the seafood cocktail bar. a part of me expects him to come walking through the doorway now, flannel shirt, ski jacket, wind-blown greasy hair, coke-bottle glasses. You know, when I’d look at his eyes through those glasses, his eyes looked twice as big as they actually were. I could imagine him now, I could imagine the smell of his Levi’s of dirt from the construction site. I remember that smell from my father; I’d smell it every day when he came home from work. It’s my brother’s business now, he’s got his own family now to worry about instead of a little sister. So I’ll just sit here at this airport cocktail bar, remembering the days when I’d sit with him in a place like this and I was too young to drink.

God, I want to see my brother walking in to this bar at L 4, ordering a shrimp cocktail. I want to see you, babbling on about a movie you reviewed or a gig your band had. I want something that isn’t so foreign, like this bar. Or maybe I want something that isn’t so familiar.

I took your picture out of my wallet, the wallet that has so many pictures of men who have come and gone in my life, men who have hurt me, men who I have gone through like... like dish washing liquid, or like something I use all the time and replace all the time and don’t think twice about.

I’ll just sit here, in this airport, trying to care just the right amount, not too much, but not too little. So I’ll just sit here, in this airport cocktail bar, looking at your photo, and wondering if I’ve done this before.

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