I was walking in to the Gratitude Cafe and Jared Leto was walking out. He glanced over his shoulder and caught me giving him the double take. Our eyes locked for a moment. And the world stopped spinning. We were in The Truman Show. I was Nemo Nobody. Stuck in between choices, where time doesn’t register, and life fails to move forward, but the lights are up and thank God I’m in full makeup.
Then I gasped because I was caught and I was embarrassed because I was caught. My cheeks flushed high pink, my nose scrunched up and my lips pouted all crooked like they do when I smirk. It wasn’t pretty. But it was natural. He nodded as if he understood everything I didn’t want to say. Naturally.
Neither of us moved. No one said a word. But loneliness has a calling card and we were quietly passing ours out. Right there on the sidewalk. Like American psychos. A pointless exercise because I don’t have a name and everyone already knows Jared Fucking Leto. And how to get to him. Should he need catching. We were so close, I didn’t need a net. Why was this happening?
This exchange between Jared and I, on the corner of what now and where do we go from here, ocurred just as a gust of wind blew up the block and tossed his long hair in to my face. I caught a tendril in my mouth. Like a baby bird. He was embarrassed. Like a small child. He wrapped two fingers around the rogue hair, pulled it from my lips and tucked it behind his ear as he apologized for the intrusion.
He should have kissed me instead.
But life, a cyclical circus of clowns and bad costumes, cartwheeled in to the space between us. Dressed up like proper etiquette. Rules. Traps. Balloons and bad habits. Shyness. Expectations. Revelations. Frustrations. It was all too much. I took a step backward. Stumbled over my heels. He put a hand out to balance me. It burnt my skin.
Once I was steady on my feet, he looked at his hand. Shocked. This was too much. So I forgave him for the hair thing and suggested he be on his way by looking at my feet instead of in to his soul. He left the door open, you know, but I shut it and he shrugged his shoulders and blamed the weather for all of this. It certainly wasn’t his fault.
I asked him if he was crazy and he said “sometimes.” And I told him I was afflicted “most of the time.” That quieted us both. Made the space between us feel like miles. He was Prefontaine again. But I was the one trying to run away.
His phone vibrated in his breast pocket and that made me think about my cousin Maranatha’s cabin in Michigan that vibrates from the nearby falls. Such a quaint place that sits right beside a rock formation that looks an awful lot like a chocolate-chip cookie and it helped me to believe that what had happened between me and Jared was quite relevant. Like that cookie-rock. And not a mistake. Like that cookie-rock. Just a twist of fate. Like that cookie-rock. A moment where the weather went crazy, not he nor I.
And then I remembered I wanted a cupcake and I had an email waiting for me so I turned on my heels to leave. Before we parted, Jared looked at that same spot on the ground as I. And I thought that it might mean something. But my stomach growled and it became just another day and I went to the counter inside the Gratitude Cafe and ordered a Vegan Banana’s Foster Cupcake from a waitress named Betty who actually likes her job and Jared climbed inside a waiting car run on oil that was refined in Delaware City. Worlds collided, once again, and I ignored the signs.
Just one cupcake for me because I needed to get back up the hill in front of my laptop before nightfall. Sitting on my screen was an unopened email that might change my life. One cupcake to get me through the opening then eventual reading of that email. Getting published is a bitch. Running in to Jared, that’s fate.
Fate follows me around you know. Stalks me. Stalls me. Makes me stumble. Running me in to distractions right and left. People I don’t need in my life consuming a window of time I’ll never get back. When all I wanted was a fucking cupcake.
I’m sick of adjusting to the high altitude-like suffocation of the real world. And I guess if we’re being honest, running in to Jared Leto takes my breath away too. It has happened more than once. More than twice. We have run ins all over the world. I doubt he remembers me, but he always notices. Gives my backside an extra glance. Cleans his sunglasses with the end of his flannel then checks it out again. Runs a hand between his legs when I walk by his table by the Bar. Presses the up when I’ve requested the down button in an elevator in the brown brick low rise on Houston. He says he never forgets a face, but I think he has forgotten mine.
We’ve never said hello because I wont allow it. Hello leads to goodbye and I never want to say that word to him. Never want to suggest forever isn’t being written by a post modern quill scribbling on a napkin somewhere high in the sky on a 749A headed over the French Alps.
Clearly, I need the distraction a hell of a lot more than I need that fucking cupcake. So I’ll take what I can get, be it the winds of fate or a spot on the sidewalk because, well, haven’t you figured it out yet?