You meet him at a table on the starboard side of this floating restaurant on the banks of the Mississippi. The floor lists a bit, which is good, because love is a crooked thing, and you might as well face up to that fact at the beginning of the journey. The city sits downstream, and from the open deck you can see new buildings rising, all metal and glass. This, too, seems appropriate for romantic beginnings. There's something hopeful in the unfinished girders, an undetermined future. By the same token, logic tells you that this is St. Paul and the places will go bust in a few years. As you order cold carrot soup and a plate of fresh greens, you look over toward the bluffs that house the Ramsey County Jail. Is this where the date might lead--reckless emotions tossing us into a holding cell where affection wastes away over months and years? Are we prisoners of lust or are we actually getting along? Make small talk. Ask a lot of questions. Pretend to listen to the answers. What is she saying about her girlfriend's glass eye? Did he just put his finger in his nose? If he's picking his nose now, imagine what he'll be doing in five years. Can we have another round of Summits? How narrow the staircase to the tiny bed and breakfast in the old captain's quarters. The sound of waves and urgent respiration. And then the dream: Someone has cut the anchors and you're floating downstream, together. Only get out of bed for meals. A week later you're in New Orleans, feeding each other beignets in the French Quarter. No one told you the boat has no engine.


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