Illustration by Bob AulFIGARO 3, April 1, a little after 3 p.m. on Harvard in Irvine. In the space of two red lights, you made me into an April fool. I was struck twice: once by Eros' pointiest pleasure projectile, then by the green left-turn arrow. Can you ever know how much you changed my life? You were the belle in the Beetle: slender-wristed, showing powerful delicacy in the tone of your hand gripping the wheel and twice or so touching your hair, which rested on the smartly tailored shoulder of your white jacket and partly obscured your face as you inched forward at the first light—but not enough. Framed by your hair and the green manicure of another Irvine apartment "community" entrance, the clean slope of your nose, the focused yet slightly melancholic set of your lips (were you listening to the radio? thinking of someone you had to see? recovering from an odd encounter over lunch? I have made many worlds for you in the past 24 hours . . .), this image called up that tingling in the back of my eyes that precedes tears. The first light turned green, and I fought to keep my vision clear, if only to make it to the next light, the next and perhaps last chance to be within 15 feet of you—I was turning; you were not. I sent you a psychic plea: if you could only mouth your name across two lanes so that I would have a word for such beauty. Language, words are my trade, what I love and what I teach, yet for 18 hours, I have tried to make any combination catch, searching three languages for the slightest syllable for what I saw and felt at that first light. But nothing close. I could have guessed a name for you, but without how your lips turn it, how your chin moves to accommodate its vowels, how your tongue might touch your teeth for a consonant, any name for you is empty. I don't know if you got my message, but you turned at last, looked, titled your head no more than a few degrees, and smiled and peered as if to ask how anything you could have done would cause me to be so evidently awestruck. Or perhaps you were asking something else, muted by two car windows and an empty lane. I wish you would ask again, were that possible. I have so much to ask you. The green arrow came, and I had to go. Hours later, a thunderstorm broke, and I wondered about you. Did you get caught in the rain like I did? Did you jump at the thunder? Will those questions ever cease to pose themselves? Have I even left that intersection? I'm not sure that I have, and I am grateful to you for it.
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