So I bumped into her on the street, Broadway between 11th and 12th, right by the Strand, and she immediately blushed like she'd been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. I hadn't seen her in 8 months, no one had, and the first thing she said to me after "Hi..." was "Your beard is scary." I don't have enough friends who are that candid. I was still stuck trying to accept reality. This city has a way of tossing you next to people you thought you'd never see again.

I did not ask her certain questions, like "Where have you...?" and "Why haven't you...?" and "What's the matter with...?" I don't like to say predictable things, and I kind of knew the answers anyway. I think she appreciated that. Before I knew it I was tagging along. We went to Blockbuster to rent Ever After, which she claimed her roommate talked her into getting. I knew right where it would be on the shelf because I used to work there (Not there, in another state; they're all the same.) She faked impressed. We headed out of the video store and back up the street. Still talking. No awkwardness. What was going on?

She said, "Do you want to wait? I just have this phone call to make." I said, "Sure." We sat on a park bench in Union Square and I pretended to be bored while she chatted up the mother of a child she's in charge of at work. She used her real name, the one I hadn't known, and when she hung up she told me all about it: which half she hates and why she ditched it for an alias of a pseudonym.

This was the situation: I met a ton of fascinating people this year. She met them all last year and hadn't seen them since. So we had oodles of impressions and stories to share. If you know who she is already, we talked about you. Sorry. I swear I made you look good.

She wants to come back, don't ever doubt that. But quitting was difficult to a degree I personally cannot imagine, and naturally she is proud in spite of herself. Either way, it's really not her choice. She informed me of rules, like:

"Technically I can't even touch people. Men. In a familiar way."

"Right now, sitting here, you can't touch me?"

"I cannot touch you."

By the time we both had to use the bathroom (Virgin Megastore), it was clear she was riding this fate thing out, and did not intend to watch that movie anytime tonight. Coming back, navigating by why-not-sure, we selected the opposite side of the park. Each on a different bench, two armrests in between. Now we could scrunch or splay legs however we wanted, now we could have full eye contact without turning necks. Round Two.

She began to reference her work, impeccably, every word of each title spot on. I happened to be in the midst of reading it all chronologically, and she was surprised by how many details I could provide. She mentioned many things which I coincidentally arrived at in the following week. And in both places, the site and the speech, it seems she only told half the story. I don't know if that was intentional, but I love that effect. The interaction of voice and text.

We ended up talking for five hours, and it was so goddamned easy. How many people in your life can you do that with? She still looks the same: glasses, hair, wardrobe. I complimented her snazzy running shoes. She still grins so wide and tall you see gums. Easily excited, and purely so, and that's so uncommon around here.

We got up to make another potty trip before reluctantly gravitating toward our respective trains. We were discussing how the Village Voice gave the Metronome sculpture an award for ugliness and that's when we saw a fat woman drop her sweat pants and piss in public, provoking disgusted shouts from the black kids nearby. In pretty much the exact spot I almost got the shit beat out of me last year. It was, thankfully, the most forgettable part of the evening. I'm not sure why I'm mentioning it.

She walked me to the stairs above my platform. Was that rumble mine? I ran to see. Nope, downtown. I walked back to her, then just stood there like an idiot. Wondering how to phrase goodbye. She sighed. "C'mere."

And she gave me a huge hug. Real. Right.

"You're great." I spoke firmly in her ear, unexpectedly (to me), more because of the sudden warmth of her body than any realization. Which doesn't mean she isn't, just that I knew it already. Lord knows what else I would have mumbled if it hadn't been detaching time.

So I walked to the stairs again, while she stood there. The last thing she said, and very clearly, was "Give everyone my love." So that's what I'm trying to do.

Jane is not running from anything. The path she is on is not the easy one, not by far. I know what it's like to have to please a higher power and your family simultaneously, and I don't envy her. Like so many of you reading this, she's brainy and cute and fun as hell, and I'll miss her, but I won't mourn her. She knows what she's doing, and she's doing it. When she has a goal she doesn't dawdle. She runs for it.