the sure thing a video by o&poecormier on Flickr.

when i was a kid, i wanted to plant a time capsule in the backyard.

i never did, which is just as well as we lived in a series of apartments and it’d be awkward to go tearing up somebody else’s lawn with a shovel just to reclaim one’s remembrances of things past.

but not all capsules are buried in the ground. some lurk in the vaults of recent obsolescence, captured on that disappeared technology our kids will never know: tape.

Dave came across this last night, courtesy of an old friend of ours from our expat days. the dress rehearsal of a one-act play called The Sure Thing, filmed in a long-gone bar that served as home and communal living room for the motley expat population of Busan, South Korea that year.

in the play, our characters were two people and two hundred: all the permutations of possibility that occur when one human encounters another in a coffee shop. every time the bell rang, we switched, landing in a different story, trying each other on for size. in the end, the characters finally fumble their way through the mystery of connection. happy ending. curtain.

like all good romantic leads, Dave & i began sleeping together during rehearsals.

he was younger, and had terrible hair. i was blonder. the video quality is bad. my acting’s worse.

the night after this video was shot, we performed the play at a poetry reading/arts extravaganza. we stayed up all night that night. he drove me to the airport at dawn, and i flew to Amsterdam.

i’d booked my ticket months before. i was only six months out of a marriage. i had oats to sow. i had no business being with Dave and i knew it: i had known him five years. we were too much alike, and oil and water at the same time. our histories were too intertwined. there were a hundred reasons, and we both agreed. nothing so trite as a happy ending.

he stood in the early morning with the sky pink behind him and he held my eyes as i walked away to the plane.

i tried hard to find a different trajectory that summer, to ring the bell and land in a different character, a different story. i kissed an American girl in Amsterdam, and a Flemish mountain climber outside a hostel in Belgium. (then i told mountain boy about how my friend Dave had been to the same hostel four years before, had sent me there with a note for Fifi the cook. i heard the words trip from my mouth and i began to realize i was in trouble). i fled to Ireland, had a hairdresser shave off all the blond fuzz of my hair until i looked like Sinead O’Connor. i kissed an Irishman in Galway: he purred in my ear that i could come sleep at his mam’s. i declined.

after six weeks, i gave up. i flew back to Korea two weeks early.

i told him in an email the first time, that summer.

i love you.

***
living is hard on love. when i watch the tape, i laugh and cringe and want to squeeze his cheeks. i know what comes after the curtain, when real life begins. i look at those two kids who felt so old and serious and reckless nearly ten years ago and i think, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, darlins. life is not only in those moments of the mystery of connection, no matter how we tried to keep it so. joy, tragedy, drudgery. more of each than i could have imagined. but still the bell has not rung on us.

i’m not sure what you’re supposed to feel when you dig up your time capsule. wistfulness, maybe? wonder?

this tape is my time capsule. what i feel is snorting laughter. and gratitude.