Listen, I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to filter truths to protect myself from you. I’m a big enough girl to handle your reaction. Plus, it isn’t like anything you’d say isn’t something I’ve already thought on my own. If you’ve learned but one thing about me from reading my blog, it should be this - I will always be more critical of myself than anyone else. Always.
With that said, I slipped. I initiated communication. It started with a two-word text message and within a few hours ballooned to something more. And by more, I mean me offering to stand on 1st Avenue and cheer Alaska on from afar. Yeah, I know how it sounds. Trust me, when I sat at dinner with Bess Sunday night revealing my guilt, I heard the words. I heard the way it painted me as pathetic. I heard the way my suggested efforts lacked legitimate basis. I heard it all.
So yeah, I may have slipped. I may have tinkered with the past while living in the present. I may have dabbled with feelings that honestly are so distant I can’t even properly recall. But as I started to rethink my proposed actions, as I started to reevaluate and see the error in my offer, things unraveled. I stepped forward and he stepped back. Again. And so, he ran the race in New York and I played kickball in Philadelphia.
Following the game, the team went for drinks. And following drinks, Bess and I went for sushi. We settled in at a table and perused the menu, alternating suggestions and evaluating options. I swirled pieces of seaweed salad around my chopsticks as I confessed. She popped pieces of sushi in her mouth as she talked about upcoming commitments. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the table next to us.
It started innocently. The waitress was placing a bowl in the center. I observed the arch of her wrist as she leaned forward before releasing her grip and walking away. I noticed the way the woman facing me reached her chopsticks into the pile of scallops and noodles, her face crinkling ever so slightly as she focused on the task at hand. I glanced at her companion, curious to observe his expression. And then I quickly turned back to Bess.
“I know him,” I said between clenched teeth, a slight nod of my head indicating which him I was referring to.
“Really?” she asked.
“Okay, remember how like ten minutes ago I was telling you about my college friend’s wedding. The one where I wore a Vera Wang dress that had one boob dart facing north and the other one facing south? That’s her cousin. From Virginia. I went out with him on a date something like five years ago.”
Bess cocked her head a little and awaited additional details.
“I had a great time but I ultimately I freaked out. Because I was in my twenties and he was in his forties and had an eight year old son. I felt completely out of my leauge. He was too adult for me. But this April, my friend and I ended up visiting with him. She was trying to track down her sister and, well, it’s a really long story.”
“Wait, I remember that. That’s him?”
“Uh huh. And the last night we were there, my friend went up to bed and he and I lingered downstairs with some wine and music and,” I stopped mid-sentence as I watched him get up and go to the bathroom. “Nothing happened but there was room for it. What if he’s on a date? I don’t want to make him uncomfortable by saying hello in front of her.”
“So go to the bathroom and say hi there,” Bess quietly suggested.
I waited a few seconds before sliding out of my seat. I folded my napkin and placed it on the edge of the table. I pressed against the wrinkles in my jeans, tucked my hair behind my ears and headed for the stairway leading to the bathroom. I lingered in the hallway and fiddled with my watch. I tapped my foot gently against the wood flooring. And as he neared, I smiled and said his name.
“Well?” Bess asked when I got back to the table.
“He’s up for a medical conference. She’s a peer. And we’re going out tomorrow night.”
“Awesome,” Bess exclaimed.
“And to think I could have been in New York right now chasing my past. I guess what they say is true - it all works out for the best.”