Long ago, there was a predictable end to our relationship.
Kim and I dated at the end of high school. We tried to maintain that connection long-distance when we each went off to college: I stayed in Seattle; she moved off to New York. We eked out nearly three years before it ended badly. That was followed on by long periods, measured in years, over which we were not in touch with one another.
But that's truly water under the bridge, now. We've seen each other recently and often in cities far from here--including Vancouver and Montréal. We still have yet to meet up again in the distant cities where we spent our time together post high-school (chiefly New York, though a brief jaunt to Europe as teenagers would make another long, wonderful story.) We just saw each other again when I invited her over to dinner where I'm cat-sitting last night. At one point we talked about the similarities more and more cities around the world now share with each other:
"It was amazing to see when I finally went back and saw how they'd remodeled Grand Central from what it had been in the late '80s, back when we would have last seen it together," Kim said. "But when you look at it now, though the architecture is still beautiful, the shops and brands are the same as anywhere else. The station may look amazing but there's just another Apple Store dominating everything up above."
"That reminds me of something I found while cleaning up my dad's place. I've been meaning to give it to you for awhile. Let me grab it out of the back room. Just a sec... "
I came back with an object that caused Kim to shriek and laugh when she saw it. It was a battered sign from the New York City subway that we'd taken together several decades prior. She remembered the sequence of events exactly as I had, perhaps in even greater detail:
"No! I can't believe it. That was the sign that was lying on the floor up above the 6 platform. We weren't sure if it had been taken down to be repaired and then put back up again or replaced entirely. You wanted to take it back to Seattle as a souvenir so badly! We passed by it several times over the course of a week and kept contemplating whether it was bound for the trash or kept to be put back up and used again. Finally, right when you were about to catch the Carey Coach out to the airport, we decided to grab it. You went to the drugstore to buy black plastic bags to wrap it up in for the flight. Oh, I love it!"
I told Kim that after having it so long in my posession it was now her turn to hang the sign wherever she pleased. She left dinner mulling over whether it would look better at her home or inside her office, somewhere.
Glad to see you for dinner last night, Kim. We'll re-connect and re-live old times again after my cat-sit. Then, let me know when you're next passing through back East and we'll see if there are other street signs lying around the ground in need of a better home...