There was this town I lived in once. I was there for a couple of years. It was the kind of town that moved in circles—not really forward and not really backward. In the two years that I lived there, almost everything went in cycles, especially relationships. If I dated this girl now, I would date her again later.
That’s how it was, and it was fine until it wasn’t.
But this isn’t really about the whirlpool self-gluttony of Albany, Georgia. This is about the potential that the town had occasionally to break its own patterns.
There is a cocktail napkin that I found shoved into the back pocket of my Albany journal. The words written there are a simple reminder to remember a girl that I had almost forgotten.
Don’t get it twisted. This isn’t a story about a hook-up or a one night stand. There is no soft impression of lip stick at the corner; there is no phone number scrawled across the front. There are only those eight words and some scribbles where I almost misspelled “remember.”
She was out of place—tall and well-dressed. The heels she wore were high, but she walked well in them, not like the girl I had broken up with not long before–Jane, who you’ll hear more about later. Jane walked like a clumsy velociraptor in heels.This girl—this Miranda—could handle elevation.
She wore her hair pulled back, I think, and her top sparkled, perhaps. I only remember being struck by the wardrobe. She was parked at the bar in a dive called “One Trick Pony” which was every bit as charming as you would assume it would be. I, too, was at the bar—probably waiting for karaoke to start.
This is how I spent my Thursday nights during the break in one of those cyclical relationships.
The bartender and I had a deal. She would help me hit on women, but she would also help me keep accurate perceptions of my targets as the beer goggles kicked in. We had a hand signal that she would flash at me if I was hitting on someone she deemed “a skank.” It was helpful. Really.
But Miranda from New York passed the bartender’s test and we were talking. I don’t remember a word she said, though. I don’t remember her backstory. Maybe she was dating a cage-fighter (I really think she said she was now that I think about it).
She asked me if she could come over. I remember that part. You don’t ever forget that part. You also don’t ever forget the part where some portion of your soul wakes up and you sneak away into the night without that—whatever it was. And you’ll think I’m a coward, and you may be right. You’ll wonder why I rejected a beautiful woman in such a callous fashion. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure. Maybe I was afraid. Who knows why we ever do anything?
So, something like three years later, I wonder why I wanted to remember her. Why did I make a note on a napkin that I hadn’t seen since I wrote it? And right now, all I can think of is that she represents potential. In a moment of heartache for me, she showed me that there would be life after Jane. She is one of life’s hiccups. She wasn’t important enough to be anything else—not a tidal wave or an asteroid or a nuclear bomb. She was a hiccup, and life is full of hiccups.
And just like you’re told as a kid that you’re growing when you get the hiccups, maybe these other, metaphysical hiccups represent some sort of growth. Regardless, we will try to move on. After all, hiccups are all very annoying at the end of the day. So, you drink a little water, introduce her to a table of well-mannered and thirstier men, and sneak out the back door never to see her again. Now she is just a name on a napkin—a hiccup in the memory of a town which itself was a hiccup of sorts.