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Apr. 1st, 2015

Of all the things about being back in New York that I wasn't prepared for, the cold sucks the most. It's almost enough to make me turn around and go back to Guatemala. But, it also reaffirms for me that this isn't where I really want to be right now. Okay, well, that's not entirely true. I want to be here today and tomorrow and the next day. And maybe a few more days after that. But next month? No. I don't want to still be here when the weather gets warm.

My ex-wife already knows I'm in town. I called her first because I wanted to make plans with my kids. It's not fair to her if I just show up. But the kids don't need to know. We can work it into a big surprise on Easter.

I shoulder my backpack as I shut the cab door and squeeze between cars parked in front of my apartment building. Christina doesn't know I'm here, either and I have this all carefully planned. I dig my keys out and slip inside. The buzzer on the door would give me away, so I wait until I'm in the lobby before I fish out my cell phone. It's the same prepaid el cheapo model I've been using right along.

As it rings, I cradle it against my shoulder and grab the mail from our mailbox. It's almost like I never left, except everything has this foreign feeling to it, like I'm on another planet.

"Hi there," she says and almost startles me.

"Hey babe," I say as I flip through the mail, looking for anything interesting. No surprise, it's all crap. Mostly, I need to kill a few minutes, treat this like our regular phone calls. Our apartment is only on the second floor. "How's work?"

"Kinda dull," she says, "I dunno. I couldn't focus. I miss you." And that's my cue to start heading for the stairs.

"I miss you, too, Chris," I say. This girl, she deserves something nice in her life. She deserves to have someone do something unexpected for her. She needs to know she matters. And even as I think all this, in the back of my mind, I also know I can't be tied down.

"Do you think you'll ever come back here?" she asks.

I'm taking the last step on our floor as I say, "I dunno. I like it here." My voice echoes loudly in the hallway and I wince. I really hope she's not paying attention to outside sounds, because I know she could hear every word I say if she is. I pocket my keys and stand in front of the door.

She sighs, "I know you do and--"

I knock.

"--who the hell is knocking on my door now? Whoever it is bettah go away cuz I ain't home."

I grin. "Maybe it's important?"

"Yeah right," she snarfs. "Hang on." I can hear sounds from the phone and muffled noises from behind the door as she makes her way. I hang my phone up and tuck it into my pocket as she undoes the lock.

"Hi," I say.

Her eyes go wide and she lets herself squeal as she throws herself at me. She hugs me tightly for a moment that feels altogether too short before she pulls back and looks at me. I can see the tears in her eyes even if she doesn't want me to. With shaky hands, she pulls me inside and locks up again.

And with a fierceness I'd forgotten was possible, we're on each other like teenagers. Words can wait. I need to feel her.

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"like a new man"
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Jay and Christina

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