We imagine that we see one another on a crowded street, Chinatown, New York City, near an ATM where a man presses buttons slowly and hopelessly. We think one of us is carrying a box, maybe it is cardboard, maybe it is white, maybe it is large, with sharp edges that cut into our flesh.
In high school, we did not know what to do with empty Saturday nights. They dragged on, bloated with television and the noises of parents. We were crabby and nervous and we fell asleep at nine pm, or we stayed up until sunrise, eating the last of the cereal and the freezer burned ice cream and the leftover spaghetti.
These are the years when we get a stomachache before every important event, when we compete with one another over how much we don’t sleep, when we hide in the library instead of going to the cafeteria and sitting alone. When we memorize the class schedule of a person whose name we replace with the name of an animal, so we can talk about them in public without anyone knowing. We keep journals and we write every day in them, sometimes in marker. We are unstoppable geniuses. We are sad little girls.
When we think we see each other on the street in New York City, it is ten and a handful of years later. We do not smile at strangers, and we do not smile at people we know. We are meaner now, and we are also better.