5:05 AM. She said goodbye. I smiled.
I closed the door, and took a deep breath.
The tears came. No floodgates, but a moderate mist, a condensation.
I paced the living room briefly. I looked at the couch where my roommate had slept last night. First, I noticed a folded sheet, which I knew she used because I know her feelings about sleeping on the couch with the possibility of drool. It made me smile.
Then I noticed a cell phone.
It might belong to the new roommate, H. I picked up the phone and opened it. No one’s name was on the display. I started navigating the menu and looked at the call history. The list showed contacts I knew. The phone was M’s.
Only a few minutes passed since M left. She was with H. They were wheeling two large suitcases and catching the subway to the airport.
I hoped I still had time.
I grabbed my keys. I put on some running shoes. As I started to open the door, I hesitated and went back to my room to get my wallet, in case I had to chase the girls down to the airport.
I held my own cell phone, just in case. I raced down the stairs, repeating out loud, “Please still be here.”
As I exited the apartment building, the morning was cool, and the sun was starting to peek over the horizon into the sky. It was quiet.
I ran across the street. I ran to the subway station, hearing rumbling of a passing train underground, hoping it was uptown and not the one my roommate would catch. I ran down the first set of stairs, then about 100 feet, then a second set of stairs.
Did I mention I sprained my ankle two days before?
As I approached the turnstiles, I saw the two girls just entering the platform, pushing the suitcases through the service door. They saw me.
I held up the phone.
M said she realized she had forgotten it and was about to come back to the apartment.
We hugged. She thanked me. I told her to take care and started to walk home.
I already miss her.
M comes to mind when I think of integrity. Her accomplishment, her personality, her beauty, her gentle manner, her deep spirituality, every aspect of M, so tightly integrated into the whole of her. I could say I admire her passion, or her knowledge, or her approach to life, or the way she sees movement, or the little things she notices before anyone else, but I can’t list one quality without referring to all of them. M is M.
I got to spend yesterday with her, going to the Doughnut Plant, then to SoHo. We walked past a set for Law and Order: SVU on our way to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and over to Grimaldi’s for some pizza, where we waited in line for maybe ten minutes. We took pictures and reminisced and laughed. What a great time. I’ve really cherished my time with her and wish her the best in all she does.
As I turned away to climb the subway stairs, maybe it was adrenaline, but maybe because this apartment already feels her absence, because M is so extraordinary, the tears came again.
As they do now.