90 Degrees Ago

There’s been a lot of talk about parallel universes, but what about the perpendicular ones? Big Bangs, star crossed lovers, and all that.

That’s how they say it all started, after all. The Universe, I mean. I’ve been watching those documentaries on Netflix after my girlfriend goes to bed. The one’s about space. There’s this whole section. It seems like they put more up every day. I doubt I’ll ever finish.

Anyway, there’s a bunch of these things about what they’re calling the Multiverse, which as far as I can understand, is like a bowl of soup. Wet, murky, basically a mystery. What they say happened is, in this soup of universes, two of them ran into each other, and the resulting energy made all this. This Universe, I mean. With you and me. With people who fall in love. Two universes crossing paths for a moment to birth all moments. It’s powerful stuff.

But I keep wondering about the angle.

Were these star-crossed universes plunging at each other, infinitely destined to strike in a moment of cosmic singularity? Or did they merely bump, like when your leg brushes a stranger on the train? A moment of panicked confusion where you look around to ascertain whether your space is being intruded on, but realizing the brush is simply the clumsy mistake of a stranger, you nod and forget. Did the universes say sorry and go about their separate eternities?

Either way, it just seems to me like it’s the perpendicular universes we should be worried about. These parallel universes blowing by, they’ll never bother us. They’ll never stop to give us the light of day. So why bother wondering? But, if we’re heading toward a head-on collision… if we’re plunging, I think I’d like to know.

Not that I understand any of this talk. Like everyone, math wasn’t my thing in school. Though, sometimes, I wonder if it would be now. My girlfriend assures me it wouldn’t. She’s aggressively scrubbing some fleck of grime off a plate that just won’t come off. I’m waiting with a slightly moist towel to dry.

You don’t have the attention for math, she says. Why do you say that, I ask. Because you’re always running late, she says. Or early. Your numbers are all off. But that’s ok. It’s how we met, remember?

I do. Remember.

I was running late to this Tai Chi class my friend said would be good for my flexibility. Of course, I’m not the flexible type, so it took me months before I finally got over there. I was running fifteen minutes late, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and still had to change into the loose fitting sweats I imagined would allow my body to wrap itself around itself.

That’s how I ran into my (now) girlfriend outside the locker rooms at the part where the women go left and the men go right, but for that moment we were both moving straight causing us to run right into each other.

Our feet touched. Both shoes. Toe to toe. Being that close meant our knees almost touched. They must’ve been a millimeter apart, maybe less. Of course, I wasn’t looking at my knees. I was looking at her. She was sweaty, and her face was all red and a little puffy, to be honest. But we’re always honest, so whenever I tell the story of how we met at a party or a dinner or wherever we find ourselves and find someone asking that silly question — how did you two meet — I add that little detail. About how her face was puffy. She gets embarrassed every time. But somehow that makes the story more true, and people believe that’s how we really did meet, even if it’s not. That’s why I say it.

Anyway, she apologized and stepped left. But I had already done the same thing, so we were still standing toe to toe. And you already know we both then stepped right, because that’s what people do when they find themselves at impasses such as this one. I mean that one.

But now that I’m remembering the right one, I wonder what would have happened if I had stepped left and she right. She never would’ve said, you’re very tall, because I would’ve already been by her and there would’ve been no point voicing my physical attributes. They might’ve registered in her mind, but they certainly would’ve stayed in her head, and if they had stayed in her head, I never would’ve said, maybe it’s just a matter of perspective, which was such an unexpected thing to say that I still don’t know why I said it. But I did.

And then we never would’ve met.

I ask my girlfriend what she thinks about that, about a world where I went left and she right. She says, maybe it’s out there in some parallel universe. I say, not you too.

She says, what do you mean not you too? And I drop my slightly moist towel to use my hands to more expressively explain that I don’t want to envision all these universes where this or that might’ve happened. Left. Right. Forward. Back. How many times have I known you? How many times will I? Since just this morning? Or has it been ages? That sort of thing. I don’t have time for it.

She shrugs. The fleck on the plate is gone, but she scrubs on. Well, anyway, she says, we crossed. I guess that explains it.

She puts the plate down, and I begin to dry.