V. and I met at Flora's and ordered champagne. When the bartender told me the price, I hesitated for only a few seconds, and we went ahead. The champagne was delicious, not the least bit sour or heavy. The bartender asked if this was a special occasion. I said, "Yes, we haven't seen each other for a long time."
V. and I fell into the old, bright rhythm of our usual conversations. I was glad to see him. We covered a lot of ground--the end of a romance, his family's house burning, illnesses of those we loved, my old teaching job, his current one--the two of us smartly dressed--well, he was, all in black--taking our time with the champagne and laughing.
The bartender brought water, a good thing to sip between swallows of the potent champagne. Nothing surges into my bloodstream faster than champagne.
V. said he wished he were writing more, and I, in my irritatingly positive way, told him it was possible to write about anything. I took out my purse and said I had written a poem about how, after picking over dozens and dozens of purses, I had walked away, afraid of spending money--we're talking about a lousy thirty dollars here--even though the stingy wallet I had been using pinched my fingers when I tried to pull out a card. As I had reached the door of the store, I had said to myself, "Is this the way you want to be remembered, walking away from something you like, something that does the job perfectly?" I went back and bought the purse. Isn't it garish? I love it. The designer, Ed Hardy, worked for many years as a tattoo artist and has decorated the purse with orchids, a butterfly, a heart, ribbons, a chrysanthemum into which he's stuck a big diamond. I liked putting him into the poem.
V. took out his modest, charming green wallet with a drawing of a delicate white plant "Let's think of my purse and your wallet as metaphors," I said. Of our personalities? V. can't be summed up as easily as that. As for me . . .