I was fifty-two years old the first time it happened. I was sitting on the bus-stop bench as tiny threads of rain played an off-key tune upon my old vinyl raincoat. Bright blue galoshes poked out under my long, heavy skirt. From under my wide-brimmed hat, I noticed the young man for the first time. He stood in a cloud of mist on the other side of the street, like an angel. He held a skateboard and peered in to the window of the cheese shop.
His reflection in the window revealed a pair of sentimental eyes gazing out of a red hooded sweatshirt, as if he were looking for the lost innocence of his childhood. He appeared old enough to have lost that innocence, but not old enough to have discovered full manhood yet--caught in limbo, confused. Perhaps he was simply standing under the awning to take shelter from the drizzle. I’m sure he had no real interest in cheese.
It happened suddenly. I could hear the bus approaching but rather than standing up to catch it, I abruptly found myself wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, staring into the window of a cheese shop. I was filled with an awareness of being terrified of dogs due to a severe gnash across the forearm as a child. I realized my best friend was killed in a house fire six months ago. And I felt the most bizarre urge to dash off and join the libertarian political party. Maybe then I could stand for something, make a difference. The whole experience lasted mere seconds.
There he was once again, the young man. His eyes now locked into me. His furrowed eyebrows created creases of terror across his smooth white forehead. My heart fluttered wildly as I returned his stare. He looked at me with a cross between fear and recognition. Guilt pattered inside me as I sensed he was accusing me of invading his deepest privacy. He quickly pulled his eyes away and glanced around frantically, as if he’d lost himself and didn’t know where he’d gone. He threw his skateboard to the ground and mounted it. He tossed me a final nervous glance as he hiked up the sleeves on his sweatshirt. Instantly, I noticed a huge scar across his forearm. He tore his eyes away from me and sailed down the grey street and disappeared into the mist. That was the first time it happened. I was at a loss to explain it to myself, much less anyone else.