I looked at him and realized twenty-some odd years had passed. I can’t say with any degree of honesty that I had ever loved him, but then again the timing had never been right for me to have the proper chance to love him. Maybe in the right set of circumstances I could have, but to think so is nothing more than sheer speculation. I certainly had spent a good couple of years hard crushing on him. And then when he was out of my sight, I pretty much forgot about him.
But then one night, all those years ago, we ended up in the same place (a divey, dirty small town bar) at the same time (a hot summer night) by pure happenstance. There were a lot of contributing factors – cheap beer and a lot of it, raucous laughs and his bruised heart – that resulted in us staying up until the sun peeked through the windows. Kissing even though we knew we shouldn’t, laughing, talking, examining figurative wounds and then laughing and kissing some more. And that was it, really. It was lovely and fleeting. He was gone once again, headed his own way and I headed mine.
So to see him again all these years later, hair graying at the temples and laugh lines around his eyes, was really something. But I looked at him, and then I looked at his ordinary wife (who is no doubt perfectly lovely and wonderful but ordinary nonetheless), and I thought, “I bet she makes him Swiss steak for dinner. And I bet after dinner they watch Dancing With the Stars.” If that sounds judgy, I promise you it’s not. Eating Swiss steak and watching reality TV is a perfectly acceptable way to live if that’s what makes you happy.
But it occurred to me, right then and there, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, that I am no ordinary woman. Even if I tried with all my might, I could not be that ordinary woman. No, I am complicated and layered, difficult even. And sometimes twenty-some odd years of time passing gives you perspective that everything is exactly as it should be, ordinary or not. It’s a good perspective to have.