I worked at the Gap in college. And yeah, I was a total Gap girl. I actually think it did a lot of good for me, taught me not be afraid of girlie clothes (even though nothing really beats a cozy men’s sweater). Ex-boy was working at the Discovery Channel before moving into its corporate office and having the whole division shut down. During one Christmas break I stayed with him in Florida and transferred to the Gap for that month, which just happened to be directly across from the Discovery Channel. It was fun. Slow mornings found me standing next to the mannequins in the front window making goofy faces and slapping my butt while ex-boy did the same and passers by must have thought that particular store was nice to hire a mentally retarded girl.
When holiday shopping picked up tons of people trapped me in the store, literally. Some nice, some pissed, and some weirdos like they guy who asked me to try something on for him because his girlfriend was the same size as me (yeah, no.) And then I turned around and right in front of me was ex-boy. But, it wasn’t ex-boy. It was the ex-boy of 10-15 years in the future. And I stopped, and stared, and I started at the top of his head with the dark curls streaked with grey fly-aways popping out all around his round head, to the pigeon feet around his eyes, he was a bit thinner in the middle than I’d expect, then the scrawny legs, to the black converse. Grey sweater, dark jeans, black converse. I looked right into his eyes and did the goofiest laugh and smile that I can still mimic because it’s not a laugh and smile I had ever done before or since that moment. This was perhaps in the expanse of a good few minutes of this guy probably thinking once again, how nice, they hired a mentally retarded girl. But he was smiling, and it was cute.
Recently I’ve been noticing ex-boy (yes, people, obviously we’re dating again but he hasn’t yet come back to being just boy b/c there are still issues, obviously, issues) what? oh, he’s starting to get these wild grey fly-aways that poke out straight in his head of curls. And the pigeon feet are deeper. And the smile with teeth is more frequent. And sometimes I see him standing up watching TV (why he always stands to watch TV I don’t know) but he’s becoming that same person I met at the Gap 5 years ago. And I keep wondering when we’ll find ourselves back at Cordova mall in Pensacola during Christmas time for him to run into the me of the past. I keep hinting that he has to put things in his wallet, pictures and stuff to carry with him for when he sees me again. I tell him what I want him to say, the things to warn me against. But I know he’ll forget, and he’ll stare at me with that smile on his face, maybe thinking wow, I never noticed how much she’s aged.