Friday, February 03, 2012

On Seeing A Classmate 3 Years Later

It's happening to me more and more.

Seeing a friend. An acquaintance. An old acquaintance. You, perhaps. Seeing you the same moment you see me. And out of our mouths at the same moment: "How are you?"

We stand waiting for a response. It takes the length of a thought to realize we asked the same thing at the same time. It takes another synaptic pause for us to understand that we're both waiting for the other person to answer.

Or perhaps we've both answered already. And we realize (or I realize) that I didn't hear the answer. I didn't hear my answer either. I assume I said that life has been "Good. Busy." And that you have answered the same.

But it's been a while. Years, maybe, since you've had this reorientation to my existence. I confess: I may have never even thought of you in those years. But here you are.

And all the memories of all of our interactions come crowding at once. The good. The bad. The awkward. The adventures. The changes I've seen in life the last three years. How I've grown up a little bit since that class when we disagreed, or the way I would retreat to my tent each night to hide from how I couldn't figure out how to be "normal" or "comfortable" around you and our classmates on the camping trip. How three years ago, I was much closer to the sheltered, cautious girl I was when I came to university.

So I ask again, "How are you?"

I cannot think of any other question to ask.

I listen to the answer this time. You seem to not notice that this is the second time I've asked the question and answer it more detail.

I am interested. I promise.

You ask how I am again.

I answer in more detail. You say, "That's awesome!" when I say that I'm working for a church, though I know enough that you probably don't think it's "awesome" but really don't have a word for it. So you congratulate me. And I'm grateful for that instinct anyway.

We have nothing much else to say. And it is as if we carry the same standing we did 3 years ago when we were both a bit younger and a bit more awkward. Or, I was at least.

So we both smile as if this was brilliant fortune that we should run into each other. We exchange hugs. "Well, it was great to see you!"

And as if three years hadn't passed, I retreat out the nearest door.

Will I ever grow up?

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