I buy the tickets a month earlier, when we are still dating, pick that game, L.A. vs. MN, because one is the city he’s just left, the other the place I’ve always called home, pick basketball because when we are 17 we play it sometimes together at the community center.
When the date comes and he no longer wants me, but still wants to go to the game, I cancel, spend the evening instead with a man I have never met, put his lips to mine instead of those of the first man, the one first kissed at 16, whose ring I wear on a chain around my neck for 3 months in high school, who takes me on dates for movies and milkshakes, who slow dances with me in my mother’s basement one year on my birthday, who rides around in my car with me on dark starlit evenings and holds my hand as he tells me how I hold his secrets, tells me how we fit. That night I put my lips to those of someone new, not that first man, who, when he kisses me again at 38 will tell me that it’s just like riding a bike. Something he’s never unlearned.
A year later I take that second man to that basketball game, think it some sign from the universe when the match up is the same as the one I missed that first time around, when that other man had come home to something, but it hadn’t been me, who had said “it’s like riding a bike,” something that we never unlearn and I think then that he is right, because I never unlearn it, the way it had felt to not be someone’s home.
The second man wears baseball caps and has long eyelashes, loves his daughter and buys me diet coke when I’m running low, goes on walks around the neighborhood to look for turtles, tells me how he likes watching me make eggs in the morning, when I’m sleepy and stumbling, moons me one day as I’m driving away to make me laugh. And I like watching his face when he smiles, like too, the shape of his shoulders, the way that, when I hold his hand, it seems to fit. But a year later, in the stands for a basketball game, I don’t think I’m home to him any more than I had been to that first one, only something comfortable, something familiar. Only something not yet unlearned.
Just like riding a bike.
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