Thursday, March 14, 2013

On a date

"I'm on a date," I say, looking up from my computer to answer the woman who has noticed something peculiar. It's Saturday night. The bar is a frenzy of intoxicated bodies. I'm on a barstool, having a drink and talking to a beautiful, spirited woman. She is making my cheeks flush, filling my belly with laughter and mobilizing my sexual organs. Her body is 11 feet away from mine. These separate us: a wall, several tables of patrons and the reality that if we touched, we might infect (and kill) each other.

"What are you doing?!" demands the woman, as if to say, "I've caught you in the act!"   Implying that in a room full of fleshy, socially lubricated bodies, I should be talking to a "real person", not an image on a screen.

But I don't see pixels on a screen. I don't see lines and colours that come together to form an image. I see a soul similarly shaped.  Through the computer speakers I hear my date's lungs groan softly - I recognize the sound of the two fat, sleepy rabbits. Her body patterns the geometry of mine. Her boney arms hunch forward, like mine.  The medications fill our faces and bellies with fluid. Our bodies erupt unexpectedly into our conversation: we cough, cough, and try to breath. Our bodies were written in the same language. We are citizens of the same country. But our land has been taken. It will never be returned.

I explain the situation to my inquisitor: "We both have cystic fibrosis."

"I'm so sorry," she says, feeling guilty. "It must be so hard that can never be in the same space, that you can't touch."

"Thank you," I say, and return to my date, to the country where I belong.

I know we can never touch. Still, we huddle close to our computer monitors. She smiles. I blush. Our future burns and crackles; this moment drags heavily along the floor.

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