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I woke up suddenly. My head jerked upright from its place against the window of the airplane. The woman sitting beside me noticed and immediately pointed to small package of peanuts tucked into the pocket of the seat in front of me. “I saved these for you,” she said in a Dutch accent. “And this,” as she handed me a napkin.

“Thank you,” I said. This all made me feel bad since I had been trying to avoid talking to her from the beginning of the flight.

“Where are you from?” she asked me.

“America.”

“Ah, are you going home?”

“No, I’m going to Munich.”

We were landing in Amsterdam. And she was the one going home. Not me.

A week later I was back where I had left from, and the time that had passed between the two points of time, the leaving and the returning, didn’t seem to matter much in the bigger picture. But it really did. Everything was different.

Because the world is bigger, I wrote.

The world is a very big place. From Asia to Europe it takes 12 or 14 or 16 hours of flying, depending on where you find yourself going to and coming from.

There is this beautiful fountain in the middle of Salzburg, Austria. There are horse heads in it that spit water into the sky, and the water falls down into the fountain, splashing the carved webbed feet of the strange water creatures that are almost horses, but really something else entirely, something that only exists in that pond. In that place. A tiny fountain world. I left a coin there, tossed it in, wishing something I can’t remember now, just wishing something.

Fountains make wishing seem easy, but you don’t really need them. They don’t really help. You have to go there, wherever it is you’re going. You have to go there on your own. But maybe a fountain is what you are looking for. A fountain that holds the worlds’ only water horses. A fountain that my 20 euro cent coin is living in.

I am looking for some other fountain, some other place. Maybe I am looking for a building, a beautiful building that I want to go on looking at. Or maybe I am looking for a park, a park where a tree grows that’s been growing there longer than I’ve been alive. Or maybe I’m looking for a person. A water horse, golden sunset, great green park of a person. Or perhaps they are many people. A park full. Yes, that’s it: a city and a park and people. What a small world I am looking for. Maybe I’ve already flown over it. Maybe I’ve already sat next to it.

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I pressed a fingertip to the condensation-covered window, watched as a droplet formed and fell, sliding down the glass, gathering more water as it went, leaving a streak of clarity in its path. And that’s typically what happens, isn’t it? Like salt water traveling on skin — it must happen to you, too — losing something, even that small, leaves you with something else.

I hadn’t heard from him in a few days. Didn’t know if he was alive or dead. That was me being dramatic, but it was also true. Somewhere out there between here and there was a postcard, full of cramped writing, the few sentences I could write when I wanted to say so much more. I was sitting there by the window thinking about that little card, flying somewhere over the ocean — or maybe it was on a boat, I don’t know, I didn’t know, what do I know about the global postal system? — It’s amazing how much we don’t know.

A few days later the “January Meltdown” stopped and the water turned back into ice and it snowed again, covering the tracks in my front yard almost entirely, leaving only tiny impressions in the snowy expanse. And that’s typically what happens, isn’t it, memories almost completely wiped away by some deciding neurons in our brains that don’t ask us permission. And now I can barely remember her sitting across the table from me, and I have no idea what we talked about for so long so long ago. It’s amazing how much we can’t remember. Time doesn’t go by quickly, we forget it.

I’ve been listening to this one song a lot lately. It has this clicking sound in it, made by those wooden instruments, Google says that they’re called claves. That sound reminds me of you, reminds me of other songs we listened to together. I almost sent you the link, almost told you to listen, hey, listen, you might like this song, but I didn’t. I would have, four months ago, two months ago. Too much time has passed between us now. Too many changes of the seasons, too many new days, too many memories wiped away, filled in with something else.

Now we’re all different people who can’t remember what it was like before — it must happen to you, too. And it doesn’t matter that we all don’t have to wait day by day for a tiny postcard, doesn’t matter that we’re all at each others fingertips. There is still a silence, and it grows, time freezes it over like the water on my window.