The Yellow Room

A Meditation On Missing You

We eat deep-dish pizza until I think I’m going to see stars. It is freezing cold next to that window that looks over the Uptown commuters on the walk home, but I like seeing the bustle. Our countdown has moved from days into hours, and we both know our night is short. We leave the restaurant with a heavy box of leftovers and proceed to sit in the car for the next ten minutes deciding where to go next.

That’s the issue with the one you love attending an ultra-religious, extremely strict university. “No women in male dormitories except during the hours of 6–10pm on Friday and Saturday.” It was Tuesday. We have already been to two coffee shops, one restaurant, and one frozen waterfall, and yet it doesn’t seem like the time to call it a night just yet.

“What’s a place you’ve never been in Minneapolis?”

The question seems redundant and impossible.

After almost two years, we had gone through this odd search countless times for a place that gave us time alone, but were also free. There were only so many museums you can silently wander though. I look at you with an exasperated, knowing glare. It wasn’t either of our faults, but sometimes I’m just sick of constantly jumping from one place to the next, always looking for an activity. Sure, we had seen just about every touristy feature of Minneapolis, visited every up-and-coming neighborhood, tried the best Asian food, Pakistani food, Mexican food and more, but I don’t care.

I stare at you in the passenger seat and try not to let tears well up. All day I’ve been getting caught up. When that song comes on as I drive to see you, when I see an old couple walking down the street and laughing at each other, when I can see you sneaking a look at me when you think I don’t notice. Even the slight thought of getting on I-35 tomorrow morning tightens my throat.

Yet we don’t have an answer to your question. And if we can’t figure something out, does that mean I have to make the hour drive back to my own bed? Pack up just like that and go to Iowa City? I can’t help the tears now. I look away, out my window, to make it seem like I’m still thinking. I don’t want to cry just yet.

I know you can hear my sniffle and you don’t say a thing. Quickly, you start the car and pull my hand to yours.

You say, “I have a place.”

I smile briefly to settle you and immediately turn back to the window. I just have to let it out. You never really understand this, the whole “I’m okay, but I just need to cry.” But I’m okay, really, I just need to cry.

We park outside the Guthrie Theater. You shut off the car and we sit in our snowdrift of a parking spot.

“Hey. We’ve been here before. I know the SkyDeck is great, but did you forget that it’s four stories up and outdoors? It’s so windy out there, not to mention that it’s twenty three degrees.”

“Em, you’ve gotta relax. Just trust me, okay?”

We step out of the car and head into the Guthrie, which is completely empty. The front desk clerk swiftly reminds us that the entire facility closes in thirty-five minutes.

“Which way to The Yellow Room?” You ask.

I’ve never heard of The Yellow Room, but sure that I should have.

We take the mirrored elevator up several floors and the doors split into a dimly lit, amber-filled room. It is completely silent. We step out and turn, only to see the entirety of the Minneapolis skyline stretched out before me. As we move forward, I see how the walls transform into what looks like a massive yellow-windowed box, its’ corners stretching around to ensure a full skyline view.

We are the only ones in the entire room — a place I imagine is filled with tourists at any other time. You sit down on a cushy bench seat and motion for me to follow. The iconic “GOLD MEDAL FLOUR” sign above, from the abandoned General Mills factory, lights up word-by-word like a ticking clock in this timeless, glowing space. It feels as if the Stone Arch Bridge is merely feet away from us, and the lights across the city glow extra bright with the windows’ yellow enhancement.

I look at you and again, I ache. To have the entire skyline in this silent, hardwood room for just you and I is too much. If it had been any other night, if I could turn off my ever reminding conscience that cannot let me forget that after tonight, I have no idea when I’m going to see you again, if I could just stop and enjoy this moment for how beautiful it was, if I could have a better hold on my emotions.

You mistake my pained look for amazement, and smile back at me.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” You say.

I try my best to hide the chaos circling around in my head, fearing that if I bring up the fact that it’s our last night for the thirtieth time, you’ll get so frustrated that you’ll leave. We both know this moment is worthy of moving in slow motion, too good to spoil with thoughts of what comes tomorrow.

I focus instead on the red, neon lights of the sign, the only thing in our view that moves.

GOLD.

MEDAL.

FLOUR.

“Em, you know it’s going to be okay, right?”

Every inch of me knows this.

Yet somehow, every time we have to part, I can’t help myself with letting my worries get the best of me.

I stand up and walk around, trying to see it all before these thirty-five minutes run out. You come up quietly and hug me from behind. We sway back and forth, watching the river thrash in yellow tint.

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