We sit together in silence on his couch, eyeing one another in a way that is both overly familiar and yet strange. The guitar rests on his lap, protected from falling by a gentle hand.
This moment feels intimate, borderline uncomfortably so, and I’m briefly thrown back three years to a train stop in eastern Germany. I can almost feel my partner’s hand resting gently on my shoulder, guiding me off the train that would have taken us to Zulich rather than our intended destination in Berlin, our eyes meeting only briefly, sleep-bleary from the early hour. In that moment, as in this one, I wasn’t sure how to feel – relieved or perhaps regretful at not having pursued that path towards the unplanned and unknown.
He clears his throat, as hoarse as I am from the songs we’ve just been belting out, and asks me what I want to do next. He’s talking about the music, of course, but it takes me a while to answers – in part because we’ve just about exhausted our repertoire, but also because my mind is on other things. Train stops, missed connections, the constant change of seasons, the people we lose and gain along the way.
I spin the ring around my wedding finger reflexively and say in a voice not quite my own, “Let’s go back to the beginning.” I’m talking about our set list, of course, but the way his eyes linger on mine for an extra moment lets me suppose that he’s captured my second meaning.