We were halfway down the block, between one bankrupt storefront and another, when we realized Kay was missing again. I was still carrying her shopping bags. Everything she owned was in those two paper sacks, and she still couldn’t be bothered to keep track of them. We turned back. Judy ran ahead, her eye on a beat-up minivan near the corner. She looked inside and motioned to me. Through the windshield, I could see Kay, Lou, and others unknown.
Kay jumped out and hugged Judy like a long-lost friend, though we’d just been walking and talking together fifteen minutes earlier. She hugged me, too, and I indicated where I had set her things on the sidewalk.
She drew back, looking hurt. “You’re not staying?”
“No,” I said. “These aren’t my people. Really close… but not quite.”
I meant it, too. These crazy paper bag people, forever bouncing between crisis and ecstasy, made more sense to me than any of the clear-headed, high-minded, well-rounded assholes who chewed up and spat out the bulk of my days. I surely loved them more.
I pulled Kay to me and hugged her again. “Enjoy every moment with them,” I said. “There’s nothing greater than being with your people.”
I thought about what that meant. I was one of Kay’s people; she wasn’t one of mine. Her world was bigger than mine.
Judy and I walked on together. I knew I would have to leave her soon, too. In a moment, one of us would ask if the other was hungry. There would be a quiet, unspoken power struggle: I would like to go to a German restaurant and she would prefer a pizza place. And wherever we went, we’d enjoy the food, and each other’s company, and the warm breeze of a clear summer night in the sparkling shell of the city.
Really close… but not quite.