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A Singularly Impressive Sky: A Start of A Coquettish Spring
Peter Tatara - March 28, 2007

I spent the weekend with my girlfriend in Upstate New York. We're going through some changes right now -- She's graduating from college, and I'm changing jobs -- and I wanted to spend some time with her to see where her heart and head were at. How was this done? Chocolates and shiny, expensive things. She hugged me and asked if I also bought her Bleach Volume 17 in Mandarin. She likes Chinese comic books, you see; however, whenever I attempt to pick her up any book in Chinatown, I end up paying twice what she would pay if she went in and asked for the same thing. Because of this, I didn't get her Bleach 17, D.Gray-Man 11, or Death Note 4. Because of this, she sighed.

I dangled the shiny, expensive things in front of her eyes again. In the past, she's made isolated comments about wanting shiny things, but whenever I've bought her necklaces or rings, she's worn them once or twice and then locked them away -- too afraid she'll lose them. I picked her up some sterling silver earring this time, each accented with a diamond, and each in the shape of a little, gothic cross. She likes Anne Rice, vampires, and Rococo dresses, and I figured the gothic touch would actually get the earrings in her ears and out of her jewelry box. She's still afraid she's going to lose the things, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if she pawns them for a few dozen volumes of Bleach.

She hadn't seen 300 yet, and I had only seen the move three times, so we took in a screening of it, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the film again, she didn't really care for it. I explained to her that the movie deals with the intangibles of what it means to be a man and, as such, its deeper brilliance was probably made of air to her. She arched an eyebrow and asked if I was upset that she wasn't a man. "No," I replied. I then asked if we could make out. "No," she replied.

We instead bought ice cream, well, sherbet -- which is like ice cream but not as fun.

The following day was spent walking, talking, picking up Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, and other pretty mundane things. Fact is, we didn't go to any place new or do anything we hadn't done before. Instead, everything was familiar, but as my girlfriend and I are currently separated by 250 miles, experiencing these simple, common things are like coming home after a long trip away. I drank in my every minute with her. The shifting highlights of her hair as the sun sank into the sky. The electricity of her touch as I held her hand in mine. The way she, as I've alluded to above, dresses like a Victorian doll.

No, wait, there was something new about the weekend. We had Chinese take-out on the second night. We got it from Capital Corner, a place we've eaten at several dozen times before. She got noodles and her usual five orders of scallion pancakes, while I tried the pineapple fried rice for the first time. I'd been tempted by the dish for a few years, but once it was finally before me, it was pretty underwhelming. Pineapple fried rice is just what it sounds like, and the combination of canned pineapple chunks and rice that was too dry didn't do it for me. "Are pineapples native to China?" I asked my girlfriend. She shook her head as she tore into a scallion pancake. (The next morning, the rice was a bit better when mixed with leftover scraps of my girlfriend's pancakes and the sweet soy sauce that had accompanied them.)

Then it was over. I whispered some last words to my girlfriend and was back on a bus to New York City. I spent the majority of my trip beating Mega Man ZX and listening through the soundtrack to Ping Pong, a Japanese film about adolescence, table tennis, and the same intangibles of what it means to be a man. (Although Ping Pong lacks monsters with swords of hands.) Ping Pong's one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, and I'm excited it'll be playing at Manhattan's ImaginAsian Theatre starting April 6. But all my above words weren't written to whore Ping Pong. No. While Ping Pong's a part of the story, Ping Pong isn't the story. What is? I finished my game and my music as night was coming, my bus was traveling through Jersey, and just as the City of New York -- the proverbial city on the hill -- was rising from the dusk. It was a distant, glorious mirage, and beyond it was the setting sun and a singularly impressive sky.

I do not know if it was because my senses were still sweeping in every ounce of sensation after the weekend or if it was the pollutants in the New Jersey air, but it was a sunset unlike any I had ever seen. Every hue between gold and midnight was splashed across the sky, and colliding with the ethereal feathers of clouds, fractured, rippling, racing, and cascading in a thousand directions at once. It was beautiful. It was the sunset from which all other sunsets are born. It was beautiful.

And it was transient. The setting sun and its entire night are gone. I've returned to my city on the hill where sunsets and sunrises are but brilliant streaks between the shadows of monoliths. But I will remember that canvas soaked with every color ever dreamed up by the angels -- as I will remember this past weekend with my personal angel.

And -- oh, yes -- I found, after a few days with my girlfriend, her heart was still in her chest and head still attached to her neck.

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