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It was Super Bowl Sunday. Neither of us cared about the game, so we went to the mall. Given the unofficial holiday, it was nearly deserted. We were on a mission to find glow-in-the-dark stars, the kind you stick on dorm-room ceilings. He lived in New York City, where the sky is polluted with unnatural light at all hours of the day, and so he said he wanted to hang stars of his own. It was just the sort of whimsy that appealed to me at that point.
We were in the sleepy town where I went to college. He was visiting; we’d met at a party the night before and kissed for a while, and he’d spent the night. In the morning, this near stranger had insisted I come along on his fanciful, mostly futile shopping trip.
After abandoning the mall, we somehow wound up at a Blockbuster — a few years ago, when the chain was beginning to crumble. While at the register he noticed a couple of coupons, which immediately sparked his interest, not because of the amazing rent-one-get-one free sales they were offering, but because of the perfect square size of the page. He started furiously folding, as if by natural instinct. In a minute or so, he was holding a paper crane. He took my hands, and showed me how to do the same. I swear to God, it was sexier than the pottery scene in Ghost. Nothing is hotter than transforming the mundane into the whimsical. And nothing is more mundane than waiting in line at a nearly defunct rental chain.
He insisted I keep both the birds, and they’ve hung out on my desk ever since. He and I saw each other once or twice after that weekend and then fizzled. But I still have the birds, less as a memento of him, and more as a sweet memory of a moment in my life. — Kelly Abrams