Friday, June 17, 2011

loose ends

I really didn't think we'd ever speak again, let alone share a tableful of tapas and and icy sangria in a dimly-lit Newbury Street restaurant.

I wasn't alarmed to learn that he was aware of my East Coast whereabouts, since I'd broadcast them on every social media outlet for which I have an account during the week leading up to my trip, but I was more than a little surprised that he wanted to see me; I had been under the impression that we'd burned that bridge from both ends years ago. Still I was touched by his gesture and, admittedly, curious what had prompted it and so I obliged.

He picked me up after work at the South End apartment where I was staying. It was good to see him in the most literal sense of the word: he looked like a man, no longer the skinny, hand-rolled-cigarette-smoking bike messenger in my memory bank. "You look so adult," I told him.

"I'm not sure how I feel about that," he replied.

It wasn't a good thing, but it wasn't bad either--just true. I spoke quickly as we walked to the restaurant, attempting to stave off the inevitable awkward silence that tends to befall dinners eaten by people who parted on less-than-wonderful terms and then allowed a significant amount of time to pass.

Finally, once the drinks had been poured and the warm bread and garlicky white bean spread delivered to our table, I brought it up. We hashed out the details of our falling-out in the briefest way possible. He apologized, I apologized. And then, an incredible thing happened: we changed the subject. We caught up on all that had happened after we stopped talking all that time ago: law school for him, a book deal for me. New relationships, the well-being of our respective parents and siblings. I think I had expected at least a small twinge of the hurt/anger/rejection I'd associated with him for so long to resurface, but I was genuinely glad to hear how well he was doing.

It was the first time I sat across from him and didn't feel the urge to reach over the table and touch his face. In fact, I didn't feel much of anything other than a deep sense of relief that the messiness between us had been cleared. I didn't feel the overwhelming desire I once did, but I also didn't feel the throat-closing nervousness and anxiety that always accompanied it. We were just two people who used to know each other well, having dinner.

What were once painful feelings became, with time, nothing more loose ends. All we did was tie them up.

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