The first time Emerson and Greta had met was the day they had been born, which was December 31st, 1984, a Monday, at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Although birthed in separate wings, their paths had crossed when the medical interns transporting them ran into each other in a hallway and, rather unprofessionally, pretended to make the newborns engage in a flirtatious conversation about The Terminator.
Emerson and Greta were later handed to their respective mothers, and Emerson’s mother handed her to another lady who became Emerson’s new mother. This newly constructed family, including the anesthesiologist already married to the woman who was now Emerson’s mother, meandered west to Oregon before Emerson started losing her sensations to memory.
In Portland, Oregon, Emerson’s world was quiet and trees. Her best and only friend was a boy named Raj and together, in the acres of private wood behind Emerson’s house, they dreamed up lives for themselves and the improved cities that would fit around them.
When she was eighteen, Emerson moved to Brooklyn to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing and when she stepped onto the borough’s streets she felt a primal sense of familiarity and took her déjà vu as a “sign.”
Greta on the other hand didn’t go to college or leave New York City or grow up with a father. But she had kissed four boys on the mouth before Emerson even understood that Raj had been trying to kiss her and had alienated a person with her sincerity for every time Emerson thoroughly tried to be someone she was not. And at 2:08 A.M. on April 21st, 2002 Greta was at a 24-hour taqueria in the East Village arguing with a stranger about the philosophical superiority of tacos over tostadas, so that at 2:51 A.M. Greta was offered a job as an assistant to an artist who made chandeliers for hotels around the world, because the stranger found her to be persistent and weird and wanted more of her company. The entire time during that exchange, Emerson slept soundly in Portland.
After attaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing, Emerson moved into another neighborhood in Brooklyn, where she rarely left her building and routinely fell in love with the people she had class with or sat across from in the subway. She liked that she had the power to make her world bigger and then smaller again, and that the fluctuation made certain things seem more valuable than she had originally thought, and others less so.