Posted in Free Write Friday

A Conversation Atop Hitt St. Parking Garage

Hello to the world above!

Of course the view up here in Columbia, Missouri isn’t magnificent per se — after all, we aren’t in Portlandia, where the city shines at night and lets its lights extend just enough beyond your gaze for you to glimpse the outlines of trees and hills.

Here, everything is smaller downtown. But we could actually call it its own sort of peace. It’s easy to take in. It’s easy to breathe in. Prone to appreciation.

Each building has a soft, comforting glow about it, and you don’t have to look up to see the top of a cliche highrise skyline. Instead, one of the highest points in the city is the ever-changing rainbow light of Lofts 308, straight at eye level and easy to spot. And it’s just as mesmerizing as the woodland sprawl of Forest Heights thousands of miles away.

But as always, I can’t be alone and enjoy something like this. No, I feel lost without having someone to communicate my appreciation to, or at the very least, share this “moment” with.

My companion for tonight is on the phone; she’s talking to her mother, asking a friend about a crucial matter, lying on her car verbalizing her fears that she may dent the hood.

She won’t do. Neither will my Dumas friends, just a few buildings away; they are tucked away into their units tonight. No one is shooting the breeze, smoking a cigarette, chattering drunkenly, leaning over the fire escape trying to get a small taste of near-death.

But then I do see someone by Dumas. Below me, a small dot of a blonde girl. But I do recognize her. She’s a girl I’ve seen in passing, and I’ve had a few pleasant conversations with her before. I can try to indeed have some company tonight.

I yell her name. She looks up and sees me, asks to clarify that it’s me, and excitedly projects her voice back in greeting.

Yet when I, ecstatic to have found a friend to converse with, attempt to make small talk, I find the wind isn’t just whipping my hair behind my back. It’s also whipping my words straight out of my mouth, and letting them sound only behind me.

I have to pick and choose what I’m going to say now. Almost everything is filtered out. We only catch small fragments of each other’s sentences. I find I only have a few moments to try to piece together things she says, before falling victim to slow response times and the possibility of the conversation dying out.

Now everything said is precious. Both of us will eventually give up on the conversation, move on, find each other on Facebook if we really care about hanging out. Until then, we must milk this interaction, elevation and distance be damned, and finish the challenge of talking.

If we both keep our attention on the encounter, make sure to pick and choose the key words we exchange, the connection is salvaged! Nothing can be vague or questionable; intentions — let’s hang out soon! Visit me at work! Glad you’re in town this summer — are not left ambiguous.

When we finally go our separate ways, I wonder why relationships, the bulk of which are built in places where sound travels clearly and body language doesn’t consist of straining one’s neck, aren’t always kept that simple.

Things that are simply hard to hear pale in significance to those that are lost in translation, perhaps.

I watch the people walk by below me. Some of my own relationships could use a HItt St. Parking Garage interaction.

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