i met a middle-aged woman named Lynn in Denver. i told her i had an an aunt named Lynn in Fort Collins.

i met a young woman named Molly, who had just gotten out of a long relationship, had cried in the train restroom the night before, and the next morning had written poetry about it.

i met a Bengali girl named Zen. i smiled when she told me this. well, she explained, that was not the name her parents had given her, it was the shortened version of a band name she liked, which she’d adopted as her new name. she was 22, and was traveling with her husband, 34. they had fallen in love seven years earlier, she said, but they had known each other for many years before that. she was three months in America, he had been here since childhood. they both considered themselves students of some ice man who argued that icy cold showers and baths made you a more powerful being. freedom was theirs, they believed fiercely, and they fiercely, joyously laughed in love every time they were together. whenever they spoke, they looked directly at me with clear, confident eyes. when i pointed out to Zen that we both had the same purple phone, she softly pinched my hand.