There is a certain ambiance in the air. I can’t pinpoint it exactly. I can’t articulate with words what I know it to be. There is familiarity though. There is familiarity in the sense that my soul remembers this feeling. I was once here before. I was once here in this exact setting. It’s imprinted in my mind. The memories awaken from their prolonged rest. I was here before, with you.
The ceiling lights flicker on and off. This is not a well-lit establishment. No, it’s one of those rundown nooks. Why would anyone set foot in this bar? Why would anyone consider this a choice for Friday night escapisms? What is the appeal when there are newer and hip establishments down the block? You can hear the buzz of the crowds as they wait in line. You can hear the giggling, the shouting and the signs of intoxication. It’s a trendy scene in the eyes of the young but the title is momentary. A generation that lacks commitment is never loyal to one establishment. What is cool now will be passé tomorrow.
This place must have been iconic in its glory days. There is a nostalgia here even amongst newcomers. We were not the original incumbents but we can imagine the appeal. There is a certain charm here, a reminder of simple times when you did not chase what was trendy and flashy; no, I reckon the original incumbents came here to settle and unwind with good company by their side.
We were no different I hope. Forgive me as I make an assumption. We were each other’s good company I would like to think. I know you were at least for me. You had a comforting yet exciting aura. You were both tranquility and spontaneity. A night with you ceased the frivolous concerns that plagued my day. A night with you set all apprehensions aflame. A night with you was unwritten and unknown just like the first night we came across this establishment.
It was not our original list of bars. We had started at one of those trendy places but left out of boredom. We hopped here and there led by your impulsive declarations. I did not protest. I tagged along happily. I did not have to lead for once. You knew how tiring that title was for me in all other circumstances. You knew how exhausted I had become by being the designated leader and savior for others. So on these nights you would take reign. You reminded me that it was okay to take a backseat from time to time. You showed me that I too deserved to be taken care of.
You called these self-care nights but I think the concept was not exactly fitting. Self-care must be night ins with facemasks and other cliché hallmarks of perceived wellness. Your version of self-care was straight debauchery to others. Your definition was imprudent living, the carpe diem and YOLO manifest. Self-care for you was living boldly, saying hello to strangers and their unsolicited invites. Self-care for you was a devotion to living in the moment, extracting every ounce of excitement possible. You were life lived at its best, a beautiful emblem that lit up the skies with your vivacious flames.
I take a seat where we once sat. If I close my eyes, I can see you here too. I can sense it; I can sense that familiarity of two friends connecting. I can still remember every detail. I can recite your anecdote from that night, word for word. I can remember the drinks we ordered, every single round. I can remember the terrible jokes you tried to share with the bartender. I can remember your every facial expression and hand gesture. My mind has a knack for imprinting such memories. You even asked me that night if I would remember it. A question for which we already knew the answer. I can’t help it, must have been my response. You laughed and carried on with another narrative. I sat there listening and watching, taking endless mental notes. I did not want to forget this. I did not want to forget you. I did not want to forget us.
I take a seat where we once sat. You are no longer across from me. That is the undeniable truth. There are no hard feelings here. Life happened. Change came forth. The pieces on the game board shifted to something we no longer recognized. There is momentary sadness that creeps in but the nostalgia is two-fold. There is both sorrow for what no longer is and admiration for what was. I admire what we had and I am grateful for what we once knew. I hope you are doing well friend. I hope your spirit continues to persist.