Auld Lang Syne
“You were always so unsure of yourself. It drove me crazy.”
He took a sip of wine and gave me that annoying not-quite-a-smile I remembered so well. I refilled my own glass, held my silence. I was still trying to fathom the coincidence of walking into a wine bar far from any place either of us had ever lived and having some random old man look up and be him, Claude.
“Look, I’m not trying to upset you, but you asked what happened with us, I’m telling you. I wanted a strong, aware, confident woman. At that time, you –”
“At that time, I was only twenty years old,” I said. “A child, living away from home for the first time, certainly not needing some man twice my age coming at me with all of his needs, expecting me to be someone I wasn’t.”
“So it was my fault?”
I looked at him a long moment. He wasn’t frail, exactly, but was on the way. With effort, I could still see the man I’d found so dynamic. He’d called my name when I’d walked into the bar, and it was his accent that had helped me find him in my memory, not his face. When I’d met him almost thirty years earlier, my first thought about him was that he was so old. How little I knew. Then or ever. “Some of it was your fault,” I said.
He nodded. “And now? We can share a bottle in this dark bar and none of that matters, right?”
I hated giving him that, but of course he was right, so what did my reluctance say about me? I hadn’t thought about him in maybe twenty years, but I was dredging up old hurts to poke at him? I reached out and took his hand. “None of that matters. It’s actually nice to see you.”
He laughed. “You mean it’s nice to know I’m still alive.”
I smiled. “That, too.”
I think I need to decide what I’m doing with these stories. Yesterday and today have been a little too random for me. Not that random is bad. I’m a big fan of random … Still. Maybe I want a theme of some kind, a thread I can follow through the month. Maybe not. Maybe I just need to get out of my way and write.