This never happens expectedly. It must be some kind of ironic life rule, a sidekick to Murphy’s Law, occurrences that only happen in the most abrupt of ways.
See, its the kind of situation that’s reserved for the frozen food aisle of the grocery store when you just popped in to grab eggs and milk, or at the local bar that’s only busy on Thursdays when you’re about to order your third rye and ginger.
You look up and meet their glance, one you lost yourself in thousands of times before. Their voice triggers mental alarm clocks that were set in what feels like seven lifetimes ago. Their eyes teeter anxiously halfway between wildly familiar and unrecognizable, mildly inviting but strangely brash.
Do you feel that? Your heart, picking up it’s pace ever so slightly? It’s triggered just enough to grab your attention, a subconscious habit thats forgotten where it went to die. A few left over butterflies dance, briefly resurrected from their graves.
“How have you been?” It will start, mumbled quickly through a courteous one armed hug.
Familiar scents will force their way to your mind on the path of least resistance. It might flash you back to a fuzzy memory of wearing his T-shirt, the one you stole and sprayed obsessively for when he was away on trips. It might bounce you into recalling how her perfume always hung on the nape of her neck, and that has since left you subconsciously scanning the room every time another girl is wearing it.
You know they feel the same, but you also know that everything is different.
You’ll start noticing things you hadn’t before. Maybe it’s their new haircut, shorter than you ever remembered, or the paint splatter stubble that’s splashed across their jawline. They look older, more mature, like their life faced them with things that you’ll never have the privilege of knowing.
Then you wonder what they’re thinking about you. You start kicking yourself for throwing on sweats and wish you had of just slapped on some makeup. You wonder if they think you look different too. If they notice that you lost weight or that your hair is darker, if they see you are happier, more secure.
“Where are you working now?” Will be thrown out in the most casual of senses.
This is where you will have to accept that you wont hear him complain about how his boss works him way too hard but it’s just temporary until he starts up his own business. You won’t be the first person that pops into her mind to call when she gets her big promotion. You’ll have to be okay with that.
“Are you done school?”
It’s a confusing thing, following small talk protocol with someone who once lay in bed with you spilling conversation like red wine, clumsy words staining the most intimate parts of you.
“How’s your mom?”
“Any plans for the holiday?”
Spitfire placeholders force themselves recklessly into the spaces that threaten awkward silence. Questions that don’t really matter, but are necessary to hold back the ones that do.
Because lets be honest, you want to know how they got the new scar on their upper lip. You want to know all about their trip to Santorini and whether their grandmother ever ended up recovering form her illness. You want to ask if they still draw, or snore, or dream about traveling the world. You want to ask if you still cross their mind, if they have any regrets. You are dying to know if they are happy, oh god how you’re hoping they are happy.
But instead, you’ll just offer a smile and admit kindly that it was nice to see each other. Perhaps you’ll half heartedly agree to catch up over coffee sometime, because its what old friends do.
Then you’ll turn away and bleed back into the routine of your life, as they will theirs.
In fair warning, you might lay in bed that night and some stupid Fall Out Boy song from when you were 16 might rush back into your head. It will probably tempt you to pull up their profile, or try texting their old number. It might make you want to relive what you had, even just for a little while. You might miss them, not the stranger from the frozen foods isle version, but the old one, the version you once loved.
But that once is no longer, you aren’t in love with them anymore because you can’t love someone you don’t know. So hold back any inkling that whispers this might be the reason you walked away feeling a faint sliver of emptiness.
You’ve both moved on, you’ve been in love with others since. You’ve long stopped searching for their face in every crowd and staring into tinted windows of every car resembling theirs.
See you’ve grow up since each other, you’ve gone amazing places and seen breathtaking things.
You’ve grown away from each other, taken drastically different paths, chosen progressively different lives.
Your time together is nothing but flowing water under the bridge and fickle memories tucked under your bed. It is reserved now for grocery store run-ins and conversations in smokey bar booths, and rest assured for the sake of yourself, that is exactly where it belongs.