It is Saturday again. As I wake up to the chirping of the birds, there is a sense of calm around me. No noise. It is still early in the morning, though later in the day, this silence will be broken by the lawn mowers and garbage collection trucks that are invariably going to make their way into the alley, where right now, only a cat sleeps on top of the trash box. Hidden behind the thick curtain of clouds, the sun tries to shine, not strong enough to light up the window, but its rays make a faint shadow of the window on my floor, marking the beginning of my day.
I look around my room, and there is a pile of mail on my table. The mail came in late yesterday, and I did not get a chance to filter through those. It is always the same: a pile of advertisements, cheap clothes, cheap food, a pizza flyer, and some insurance deals. Today however, a particular envelope catches my attention. It is addressed to me by name, and is written with a pen. I recognize the handwriting as familiar, but cannot place it. At the bottom right, I see her name. The wandering squirrel.
It was the pen name she used for her blog. We had collaborated for some posts many years ago, when blogs were still a thing. I look her up on the internet; the website has since been discontinued, the posts we wrote, the stories we weaved, all vanished from the internet like the clouds that were now disappearing from the sky, bringing in the blue of the sky and the brightness of the sun to my window. A generator that had been running for the past few hours stops, and it makes me realize that I had completely ignored that noise and had assumed it was just a part of my world. I look out the window, and the sun now glistens onto the river. It is a weird place, this house. On the west, there are the high-rises, some of the tallest buildings in this city, obstructing everything beyond it and making it feel like a box of buildings stacked up, neatly arranged to optimize for the most people in the least space, and feels like a page out of a dystopian novel. And on the east, where my eyes frequently rest on mornings like these, the river flows with its ebb and tide, the boats ferrying people to and from the dock, a mixture of tourists, workers, laborers, and high tech engineers.
What could she be writing about? I try to guess as I carefully slide my finger inside the envelope to tear it with the least damage possible. When did she move to this country? It had been almost five years since she moved here, so I must have met her around seven years ago, in a different land, in a different world. Was that the last time I met her? I try to think about that evening, my brain short-circuiting the details and filling in the pieces, adding bits of inaccuracy throughout my story. It was a cold evening, so it had probably been one late in the Fall, maybe October. As I think about the evening we met, my eyes scan the letter, trying to summarize it. I would probably read this a couple more times during the day to make more sense of it, to read between the lines, but for now, a summary is all I need.
“Hey”, she writes. She goes on to explain some of the current stuff in her life that I skim through. As she moves into the second paragraph, she introduces the main theme of her letter. She is getting married in November, and would like for me to attend her wedding. I try to imagine her in a white dress. Pictures of our graduation float up in the air in front of me, then vanish into thin air and my eyes gaze into the wall ahead, a white wall with some picture frames, of which none have her picture. I try to count the years it has been since I last saw her. It was probably six years ago, she was walking across the street from me. I did not muster up the courage to walk up to her, so I let it be. So much time has passed; I wonder where she got my address, though it would not be difficult to guess; we have only two common friends here in the States, both of whom know my address.
I open my phone and try to look her up on Instagram, hoping I will catch a picture of how she looks now. I try to imagine but the only pictures that come to me are from seven years ago; much must have changed since then. I hit a dead end with her private profile, and so I let it be. It was probably best I kept away from all of this. I get out of the bed and put a pot of coffee to boil. The trees on the west have almost turned red. The smell of fall mixes with the aroma of coffee and I am transported to a world where she and I sit together under a bench, in the autumn of a different country, sipping our coffees and interlocking our hands; she looks into my eyes and smiles, then rests her head on my shoulders. So much could have been different.