See that smiling, skinny, impish young man in the photo? That’s Kyle, the first time he came to visit me. I was living in Atlanta, in a townhouse in an apartment complex, and Kyle’s sitting at the table in my dining area.
The cat on his lap was named Ko-yang-i (which is “cat” in Korean). Kyle never had cats when he was growing up, but he took to Ko-yang-i and Cinnamon, my other cat, just fine.
I remember that Kyle picked up my cats by putting one arm under their chest and stomach. You know, kind of tucking the cat under your arm. Cinnamon squirmed; she didn’t like being picked up. But as Kyle said in an e-mail exchange after the visit, “Ko-yang-i dug it right away.” And he did, resting comfortably on Kyle’s arm with his legs dangling down completely relaxed. I remember being surprised, because I’d never picked up a cat that way.
From the food on the table in the photo, I must have made us some lunch. I probably got the strawberries, and the snacks in the plastic container, from the DeKalb Farmer’s Market. It’s this huge market east of downtown Atlanta, the size of two football fields, with this immense variety of all kinds of foods from the entire world.
The table itself, I got from my aunt’s house after she passed away. It traveled from Tacoma, to Chicago, to Atlanta, to Baltimore, and to Seattle when I moved back here. Kyle didn’t like it because he was used to a table that you could set glasses on even if they had hot or cold liquids in them. But that table had a fragile finish on it that would get cloudy when it got wet, or burn when it got hot. So we always had to use coasters. Then I broke one leg of the table, standing on it to fix something on the chandelier. So we got a new table.
One day, when Kyle was visiting me in Atlanta that first time, he wanted to go for a run – he was a runner in those days – and he asked me to suggest a route that would be easy for him to follow, and through neighborhoods where the people wouldn’t freak out if a young black man came running through. So I suggested he run south on Piedmont Avenue. Which he did, and he enjoyed himself.
Another thing I remember is that I was upstairs in my bedroom, while Kyle was napping on the sofa, writing some sort of card to him. Maybe he was visiting on his birthday? I don’t remember. Anyhow, I was a little irritated with him for some reason, but I wrote a nice note in the card even though I didn’t feel like it.
There’s another photo from a visit that shows him washing dishes at the kitchen sink. That was nice of him.
I must have shown him around Atlanta, so now I wonder, did anyone stare at us? When we’re out and around in Danville, people give us second looks – not hostile, just taking another look. But I don’t remember people noticing us in Atlanta. Maybe it was clear that we were just friends.