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So here’s Anthony, twelve years later. He’s got this white pin on his right breast that reads MY INTERESTS ARE: ANIMALS & POSITIVITY. Every cashier has one of these pins, and every one is required, I guess, to list two of their prominent interests.  My interest, if I worked at a place like Lucky’s Market, would be in how, exactly, a guy like Anthony goes from running over the neighbor’s chickens with a golf cart in the sixth grade to fly through the years and land on the other side of a grocery store checkout and choose, as his top two favorite things, ANIMALS & POSITIVITY. That would not fit on the pin, of course, so I’d settle for something equally true, like BAD REALITY TELEVISION. EXPENSIVE WINES. Or, if I’m being honest--a least favorite thing--CHEATING ON MY HUSBAND. And so of course it’s Anthony, who I couldn’t see not only because he now looks like he’s eaten the fifteen year old version of himself I fooled around with in the backseat of a car at a drive-in viewing of JAWS, but also because it is the day before Thanksgiving, everyone is wearing two jackets, pushing two carts, and the lines are backed up to produce. I had no way of knowing the checkout I chose, one of the availably lit dozen, would lead me right to him. But I’m back in my hometown of Laconia, NH, for the mercifully short window of seventy-six hours, a period I calculated during my ascent from Phoenix, where my partner Lex had said, before I walked onto that plane full of stale, cold air that God knows this will be a good break from human resources. And now I’m looking for a reason to release my pity on Anthony, Anthony who failed home economics for starting a grease fire, I’m looking right at him, the dumb tattoo of a rose on his neck curling up from under his red polo, and through the beeping of every item past the register, and I realize he isn’t even going to look up at me. He won’t even have the chance to see how I look now, so far improved from who I was. I spill coins on the conveyer belt trying to adjust the lemons. It looks planned. He looks at me, but it’s like he doesn’t remember, like he knows it’s me and doesn’t need to, or like he’s busy enough and can’t.

image: Mike Crossley