When we locked eyes three-quarters of the way through the last part in TWS’s “Cinematographer” redux I think we both did a double-take — it wasn’t the sort of place I should have been surprised to see you, on the side of a decaying playground under an overcast sky, but it had been a while. For both of us — you, years ago embracing Adidas flip-flops, Honda CRVs and sweatshirts festooned with the Greek alphabet… me, delving deeper into the nightlife, growing thinner through the years, occasioning to recall our times together only now and then when I managed to chip the mountain in my closet down to the musty-smelling Shorty’s backpack and spent lighters and Magnum markers inside.
But I smiled then because enough time had passed since the bitterness of our parting — by then really we’d grown far enough apart that it was closer to a mutual apathy, already past the point of moving on. I have my tendency to overdo things and hold onto them long past the sell-by date, and we both could see you had other suitors. They may have been able to take you all sorts of places I never could or would, but there’s enough consolation for me in the knowledge that when we first crossed paths their sort wouldn’t have spared you a second glance, or become captured the way I was with you.
I was young then, or younger anyway, and so were you–just a few years younger than me, but more world-weary, given your strict, no-nonsense upbringing. I liked to think I’d seen as much of the world as you, even if it was different parts maybe, but we both knew there were questions about your background I didn’t care or bother to ask after. When we got together it seemed beside the point. Summertime was just getting going and you showed up, crisp, ready for whatever the day became, easygoing to the point we could spend days on end in one another’s company.
Did the familiarity get us? Did one of us take the other for granted, tiresome as it sounds? We lost the glow. The edge was off by the time I saw you gussied up with accessories you didn’t need and repping A-Team. Some days I caught myself looking and wondering if you’d lost the shape I used to love so much. It wasn’t only you though. There was a corridor of art shows, corduroy, European plazas, leather and reality television appearances opening, and the further down it I went, the more it seemed you belonged with the yellow t-shirts and compact discs filled with conscious hip-hop lyrics. So I didn’t begrudge you when I would see you in the mall, striding across college campuses, looking a just a little bit too weathered not to be a put-on — but by then I knew your tricks. Some of them I taught you, after all.
Let’s not fool one another. It was good to see you again, know that our paths continue to cross, that it doesn’t have to be forced. I don’t think either one of us expects things to go back to how they were, or wants them to. Those were some good years though — for both of us — and when you don’t see it coming, running into you again can make me feel almost the same as when we first got together.