As soon as I saw you, I knew we had known each other for ten thousand years. I quickly scribbled down Greek letters, Arabic numerals, and Latin presuppositions, and calculated that we had lived 167 lives together, some of them minutes long, others a lifetime. As I spend time with you more and more flash into my mind in no order – I have begun writing them down in hopes it will tell me more about the 168th life I am in now, to make this the longest and sweetest of them all.
1. In 1919, arguing in a cafe in Izmir about which revolution to join – I wanted to make a break for Rhodes and leave this place, but you wanted to scream down the coast and crash into Beirut on our way to Cairo. We agreed we’d have plenty of time to decide tomorrow, ducked under umbrellas to avoid the column of soldiers whose flag we didn’t know, and ran back to the university.
16. We had been running for days. I was tired and hungry and we would take turns carrying each other on our backs. We saw the border ahead of us and ran, and as soon as our feet touched that new green ground you turned and said “Oh god, it was so short.” I promised that we’d be back and you said you believed me, and we knew we’d never see that place again and let ourselves be swallowed by Pyrenean giants.
57. Biking down the street I caught your glimpse in the window of the train and tried to read the note you were pressing on the glass pane but crashed into the man who sells hot dogs on the corner. I never saw you on that train again, even though I rode next to it for the rest of the fall and some of winter.
77. You made me promise to keep the boat steady so it wouldn’t tip over as you climbed in. After about thirty minutes of rowing around, I said “I hate this canadian shit.” You agreed and our shoulders moved like twins, up and over the left side of the boat. We swam to the big rock at the middle of the lake and threw stones into the water until bright orange ships with bright orange men sailed in to save us from the terror of enjoying ourselves.
109. Somewhere warm, surrounded by the colossal wreck of old roman columns and carved out temples, we paid no attention to the death’s heads that peaked from under the ground to bite at our ankles and remind us of history we’d never learn. As soon as we found some high ground away from the chatter we sunk spades into the ground and flipped a coin to decide what we’d try to plant first. Figs won out and we tried to figure how many jars of fig jam we’d have to sell to build a house.
133. Laying on some earth, you, wearing one of my shirts backwards, listened to me worry about what I had to do. I was scared because I felt the weight of all history, but when you smiled and said it’d be fine, the sky opened and we fell into it all, not sure where or on what body part we’d land.
Jon Babi will be with you shortly, thank you for your patience.