It was raining when we left the subway station, or maybe snowing. Wet. Whatever it was, it was coming down in sheets (drifts?) and slicking the sidewalk. It was cold, I remember that, because I can still see the way my breath fogged and drifted when I close my eyes. Or maybe it was the clouds drifting low, or maybe the steam coming up through the grates in the sidewalk. Maybe my breath was fogging my glasses and giving everything a softer edge.
I was cold, my fingers frozen together with ice and stiff, my coat pockets providing nowhere near enough warmth to return them to life. She was cold too, but stalwart. Impenetrable, even by her standards. Or maybe that's not true, either. Maybe she was dancing in the snow (I think it was snow, now - something about that meandering quality that rain just can't pull off and rain doesn't look right for this scene) and dodging to keep the flakes off of her eyelids.
We slid down the street like figure skaters tethered together by our mutual momentum. Sometimes we held hands. That's wrong - we linked arms, could keep our hands in our pockets that way, and weaved our way from storefront to storefront, basking in the cheery glow of shoplight. Or maybe I saw that in a movie somewhere and borrowed it - throw in a cheery Christmas-themed soundtrack, jingling bells and crackling fires and all that and it could be a montage between moments of actual plot. Real people don't do things like this and anyway it was February, long removed from ornaments and ribbons. Damn, but it felt like Christmas.
We wandered, got lost, found a little tearoom and conquered its huge, tattered, red velvet sofa. We thawed and drank and laughed at the portrait of Elvis on black velvet hanging above the counter before trudging back out to find our way home. Or maybe that was a different day altogether, a different day in a different town with a different girl.
It's frustrating that I don't have a clearer picture of this, all these scenes jumbling together like slips of paper in a fishbowl. Reach in and draw one out, then another and another. Throw in some linking words and there you have it, a year out of time - a relationship. A childhood. A life. An epiphanic moment that never actually happened outside of my own head. 'And this is when I learned that...' but I didn't learn anything. It's like inventing morality tales for your kids so they don't come out as twisted as you did, or at least twisted in their own way.
Anyway. I was happy then. Or maybe not. I can't remember.