Old Fashioned

He chuckled, “What do you remember about being 19?” I looked at him, floored by the question and overwhelmed by the memories, “What do I remember about being 19?” I paused and thought, “God, I remember being with you all the time. I remember staying out far too late, far too many nights in a row… We all know who’s fault that is,” I said, tossing my straw wrapper at him. I breathed, “Uh, I remember eating whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. And running around, feeling like we owned New York.” He threw his head back, exposing his flawless white teeth. I continued, “I remember being perfect for each other, but never really taking the time to fall in love, and moving so fast all the time that our feet barley touched the ground.” Seth looked away shyly, and squirmed in his chair. “But most of all,” I said, looking down at my hands and picking the nail polish off of my thumb, “I remember hating you for leaving, and hating myself even more for not going with you.”

The silence between us was almost tangible. It was as if this third space existed between our barstools, which neither he nor I could access. It was just there, blocking us from one another and pushing us farther apart then 3,000 miles ever could. Keeping his head bowed, he looked up at me with his tender eyes and asked, “Do you ever think about it?” I kept my lips closed and forced a smile because I felt like in that moment that was what I was supposed to do. I felt a tear beginning to form in the corner of my eye, but I held it back and quietly answered, “Not going with you is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I so wish I could have conjured up the courage to bare my soul to you, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t figure out how. And as much as I loved you, and as much I love looking at you in this moment and seeing my nineteen year old self in your eyes, I just can’t change what happened.” I paused for a slight moment and collected myself. If anything, I wanted to give him the concentrated truth and nothing else, “If we’re being honest right now, if someone gave me the chance to go back in time and change things, I don’t think I would. I just don’t think I could do that to myself.” Seth kind of looked at me like I had betrayed him, or like I had told him something that he didn’t know already. His hand shot up to the side of his ear and he tugged on it softly, like he always did when was nervous. He asked, “What happened to us?” Turning to my left and grabbing my coat, sticking one arm inside, I thought about it. There must have been a good explanation. I stuck my other arm in and collected the strap of my purse at my feet. I wanted to give him some type of reassurance or affirmation, but I just looked at him, and all that came out was, “It’s not that we couldn’t fall in love. We were just too young to know how.” I tucked my hair behind my ear and got up from my chair.

Burying my face in his hair and kissing him on the head I said, “Thanks for the drink.” He grabbed my hand for a moment and I let him. He kind of played with my palm and wrapped his pointer finger and his thumb around my pinkie. He matched our hands up together, almost comparing their sizes, and for a moment we were kids without plans or futures, confused about who we were but confident in one another.

I broke our contact and turned my back to where we were sitting. I took two strides towards the door until I couldn’t bear not seeing his face again and I forced myself to turn around. I looked at him again, inspecting his clover green eyes from a distance. He looked at me as if waiting to answer a question and I looked over at the bar, only able to connect with the empty glass of my drink which he had ordered before I had even arrived. I offered, “How did you know I wanted to drink Old Fashioned?” He smiled, “When we were kids, you always used to say you were going to grow up to be the kind of strong woman that drinks whiskey.” He paused and closed his eyes, as if to project the memory. He looked at me and said, “And you were always someone who did exactly what she said she was going to.”

Feeling the heat of his words hit my cheeks, I turned around and pushed open the door of the bar, knowing full well I was leaving the love of my life, but accepting that we make choices and just have to live with them.

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bwriter24 said...
Oct. 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm
aw i loved this
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