I am being followed by Ryan Gosling. It started about a week ago, at the grocery store. He was close behind me in every aisle, while I selected broccoli, tortellini, canned peaches. Even in the feminine hygiene aisle, he was there when I sneaked a look from the corner of my eye. He appeared to be seriously contemplating a box of Tampax Pearl, scented. By the time I had filled my basket, I had worked up the courage to turn to him and to say…what would I say, exactly? But then I saw him leaving through the automatic doors into the foggy spring night, his hands empty, his gait unhurried.
The next time I saw him he was driving up 19th Avenue behind me in a red Ford Focus. My sunroof was open and I was so content, enjoying the fresh air and the choices of the radio DJs and the way the traffic ahead of me seemed to part to let me through – that I didn’t realize until I was cresting the hill that the red car behind me was him. Then I began hitting every stoplight on red and every time I looked in the rearview mirror he was right behind me, rough gaze burning. I noticed a flaw in the surface of the mirror that I was sure I hadn’t seen before. Then I stalled the car when the light turned green, and he smiled at me. No, not at me, with me, generous, and honest. He stayed behind me until we hit the freeway and then he fell far behind and disappeared.
The third time I was walking a trail out by the reservoir. It was a Sunday afternoon. The trail was the type where you go from Point A to Point B, and then turn around and head back to Point A. I was listening to my iPod on shuffle and skipping two songs for every one I listened to. I was thinking very hard about a passage I had been asked to read for a friend’s wedding. I reached the end of the trail, high-fived the fence at the end, and turned to start back. After about five minutes I saw a familiar face come around a bend in the trail and I recoiled, resulting in my tripping over my own feet, spilling my keys and iPod onto the ground, and skinning my palms as I landed. He looked startled, although probably not as startled as I, and jogged up to me, asking if I was okay.
I’m fine, I said, jumping up. My iPod had pulled off of the headphones but when I plugged it back in it picked right up. My keys had fallen off the trail and I scrounged them out of the grass, scooping them into my pocket. So–listen– I said. All of my scripted questions and accusations went straight out of my head. Can I get a picture with you?
He said sure and stood next to me, arm around my shoulders, while I snapped two pictures on my phone. So now my computer desktop picture is of me, looking scrubby and flustered in jogging clothes, and Ryan Gosling, also in jogging clothes but looking so trendy and confident.
Everyone thinks I made up the stalking thing as a background for how I got the photos. And maybe I am crazy, because I haven’t seen RG again since the pictures. Maybe I scared him off…maybe he got bored. Maybe it was all just a coincidence. I have started going for walks at the reservoir every day, because even if it was a coincidence, he might go back there again. And then I could ask him. And I would get him in a video clip this time, so people would believe me. In the meantime I’ve stopped talking about it, because my friends are starting to make fun of me. Some of them have even suggested that I photoshopped that desktop picture. I’m thinking about changing it anyway. It’s not a very flattering picture of me.