i’ll see you in the faroe islands

WE WERE SITTING next to each other in the studio when she told me that she was leaving. Delivered, matter of fact. The young engineer pretended that he couldn’t hear, because he had his big headphones on and was editing the tracks, and making them wet with reverb. His eyes were on the screen. My eyes were on her. I was still stunned by her smallness, and to imagine that she was a full-grown woman, completely bloomed, and that she would never grow any bigger than this. Even when she was an old grandmother, long after I was gone from this world, she would still be this small. Diminutive in the flesh but stellar in the soul. She was so pale with such light eyes, but as sweet and as tart as a red wild strawberry, the kinds that grow out on the islands. But who dressed like that? Wearing those pants? Who held their coffee like that? Who drank it like that, with both hands? She had pretty hands and lithe fingers. She was beautiful. Young ladies drank coffee like that, with fingers just like that, and they blinked wonderfully at the world with eyes like that. She had the eyes of the forest foxes. She looked at the world through her fox eyes and sized it up and then she sized me up. Large, hairy, spent, craggy, but good humored and good natured and well enamored. She told me she was leaving. “I have to go to the Faroe Islands,” she said. “There’s a folk music camp there and I want to work on my music. I need to work on my instrument.” Those islands, those green rocks flung out there in the Atlantic somewhere between Shetland and infinity. She was going out there and of course I was going with her, even if I had to hide myself away in her instrument case. It was decided. I would come too and even try to enjoy the taste of smoked fish. She came to my house the day of the departure. She rang the bell and I heard the bell ring. She was downstairs waiting. I was up in my chaos. There were clothes all over the floor. My daughters were popping their heads out of the mess like prairie dogs and demanding orders of Indian curry. “I want the chicken tikka. And get two orders of basmati rice!” The bell rang again. This was just not going to work out. I was too old and burned out and had responsibilities. I couldn’t even find my shoes! None of them matched up. She buzzed the room yet again. She was down there in her snow boots waiting. Oh, I wanted her so. I just wanted to run away to those islands and vanish into a warm bed of rain-splattered mornings of moisture and everything. I wanted her so, and desperately, and she was right here and it was time to go. The bell rang and I couldn’t find my shoes. When I finally got down, my stuff tossed into a rucksack, journals and such, she had already gone. There was a tiny handwritten note left in the crack of the door. It read, “I had to go ahead, but don’t worry, you can always join me later. I will wait for you and will always be waiting for you. I’ll see you in the Faroe Islands.”

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