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This is the slowest elevator known to man, but I can’t take the stairs, lest I want to sport eight floors worth of sweat to the party. The party where I’ll be face-to-face with my college roommate, Alexis, for the first time in… five years. It’s a housewarming for the new two-bedroom she’s moved into with her boyfriend, Kyle. I’m surprised she invited me. We’ve kept in touch but barely, she’s long been laser focused on her relationship. Gone were the days when people referred to us as the “Double A’s.”

She and Kyle have been dating since junior year. Little by little, I lost pieces of her confidence, of her time, until she became a ‘we,’ one that no longer included me. When we graduated, she moved to Atlanta with Kyle for his job. Years of toiling, and he was finally transferred back to New York.

I think about her all the time. Of course I do.

She was my best friend during one of the most formative periods of my life, but I’m not sure what she’s expecting now. The way she texted me, it was like in her mind, we’re just going to pick up where we left off. I don’t know if I can do that, not without having a bigger conversation. I’ve never been good at pretending that my feelings aren’t hurt.

Finally, the elevator dings, opens. As I step inside, I hear a pair of shoes clomping down the hallway, racing to catch it. I decide to invite some good karma into my life and hold the Door Open button.

“Thank you!” A man says as he slips in beside me.

“No problem,” I say. “Floor?”

He leans toward me to get a better look at the buttons. “Looks like we’re going to the same place.”

“Great,” I say, unsure if it comes out friendly or begrudgingly.


I turn toward the sound of my name. Oh my god. “Daniel?” He opens his arms wide, as if to embrace me but thinks better of it and claps his hands together instead like a child in delight. Daniel was Kyle’s roommate, so we were often thrust together. I’m trying to remember if we’ve made out or not… but I can’t.

I just have this vague feeling that something happened between us.

He looks the same except more relaxed, maybe. More comfortable in his skin. What does it say about me that in the last however many years it’s been, I haven’t given him a second thought, but now that he’s in front of me I feel… I don’t know, genuinely happy to see him? A blast from the past with no complicated nostalgia. He is just a person who was in my life for a time, a peripheral character. It’s nice to be reminded that my drama and I are not the center of the universe.

“How the hell are you? Have you been in New York this whole time?”

“Never left,” he says.

“I can’t believe we haven’t run into each other sooner.”

“Well, I live in Queens actually.”

“Oh!” I try not to judge. I know people love Queens. I just… wouldn’t be caught dead there. “That explains it.”

“Let me guess… Brooklyn?”

“Boerum Hill.”

“How many roommates?”

“Just one.” I met her in an alumni Facebook group. She was our year, but we never crossed paths. We’re friendly. We have occasional movie nights. Sometimes we grocery shop together. I guess we’re more than friendly. We’re friends, just not in the way that Alexis and I were. I didn’t want to make the same mistake of getting too close to my roommate again, mentally separating her from the other friends I go out of my way to hang out with.

“Not to brag, but I have a one bedroom all to myself in Astoria. Well, me and my dog.”

You have a dog?” I realize once it’s out of my mouth that I say it in an accusatory way instead of the normal, gushing, “I have puppy fever” way.

“Yes, I have a dog. I walk her and feed her and everything.”

I laugh. “Are you going to show me a picture, or what?” When he steps closer to me, one hand in his pocket, one scrolling through his photos, I’m enveloped in a cloud of his scent– a bouquet of pine, an oomph of vanilla. If it were an ice cream, I’d eat it. If it were a song, I’d memorize it.

And then I remember why I have this feeling around him, this ease tinged with vulnerability.

We were on a rooftop, occupying two lawn chairs amidst an array of furniture – twin tables alive with beer pong, an old couch occupied by two people I hoped weren’t about to have sex in front of an audience. An array of picnic blankets, one of which was occupied by Alexis and Kyle and two other couples.

Daniel and I had been forgotten. I was about a 6 on a scale of 1 to drunk. We were on the edges of our seats, leaning toward each other in conference. We were trading rat stories. There was a breeze and his scent surrounded me like a forest. I had just finished explaining the Rat King and the Nutcracker to him, aghast that he had never seen or heard of it. His hand dropped to my knee as he laughed and I felt… something. “You’re funny, you know,” he said, his voice rising at the end like a question.

“I know.” His hand was still on my knee, my temperature spiking like I’d been submerged in a hot bath. His other hand tucked a piece of hair behind my ear. “You’re beautiful, you know.” Not a question this time. Were people not dating you, not related to you, barely friends with you, really allowed to just say that? This, after a conversation about the Rat King. This, immediately after “you’re funny.”

Barbara Striesand would faint.

“I–” His hand was still tangled in my hair.

I wanted him to kiss me. I was about to kiss him, but Kyle appeared crouched down next to Daniel’s chair, shaking his shoulders insistently, pulling him up and away. The moment was gone, and we never got it back—too close to graduation, our lives falling apart to rearrange in a new direction.

Now, he holds his phone out to me, the screen showing a video of his Aussie Shepherd burrowing into the couch cushions. I grab his wrist to steady his hand. I surprise us both with the contact. When he smiles down at me, my stomach flips. The elevator dings again, doors opening, but we don’t move.

Maybe it’s not as hard as I thought. To pick up where you left off.

Sydney Mineer

Sydney Mineer believes in Harvey Dent. She is the #1 bull terrier spotter in Los Angeles and is fluent in both Seinfeld and Spongebob references.

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