I remember that night, but I don’t.
I’d like to believe that time is linear, and yet it seems to be circular, coming back together at odd intervals.
I’d like to say that I wouldn’t be embarrassed if I ever ran into you on the street on a wintery afternoon, as the first snow began to fall.
Cupped in between both of my hands, I’d hold tightly to a freshly brewed cup of hot cocoa with extra whipped cream on top.
You’d swing your empty cup on your way into the cafe, running your hand through your curly hair—a few snowflakes landing in between new strands of silver.
I’d like to say, too, that I’d know what to say, but I’d shake my head with surprise. For a split second, I’m tempted to turn away, pretend not to recognize your grin, and catch snowflakes with my tongue instead.
I’d like to brush off that I asked too many questions of you, so sure that you’d tell me the truth about that night in college, and the next morning when we awoke, cuddled together—two kindred souls, but not lovers.
Years later, I craved clarity when our paths converged again, and said nothing until later, when curiosity fueled my questions after I diverged from your world.
Time moved forward, and yet circled back again, so I’d find myself on the street outside this cafe.
I’d be tongue-tied a little at first, as we exchanged formalities.
I’d feel the flush fade from my cheeks, as I’d say all the pleasant greet-and-meet phrases in English, but feel as if I had spoken them in a foreign tongue—the way we learned Buongiorno and Come sta? in our college Italian class.
I wouldn’t look for nuances in your body language—the angle that your feet pointed toward me—signaling that you’re comfortable, not ready to run, but I’d noticed it nonetheless.
I’d let on about my latest adventures—sharing the creamy sweet richness of the whipped cream layer of my hot cocoa bittersweet life.
You’d smile, nodding your head, and sharing the same pleasant layer of your own life.
I’d sip my cocoa, seeing how the cream fizzled into an oily film, and I’d look at you one more time, seeing the laughter lines around your eyes had deepened. I’d see that your life was exactly as you liked it.
I’d like to say, sorry, again for sharing words that I probably shouldn’t have said. That I’m sorry for being too curious, for wanting more clarity from you about that night, and not trusting my own intuition about the truth.
I’d like to say that I’ve become a wiser woman, and yet still playful.
But I don’t.
Instead I’d say that I’ve got to get my dry cleaning even though you’d know me: I’d never use a dry cleaner (too many harsh chemicals), but those are the things we say when we run out things to say.
I’d like to say more, but there’s no reason to elaborate on a series of miscommunications and stories unspoken—our lives occasionally crossing, but always moving forward.
A brief reminder of who we’ve been and who we are meant to become in between cups of coffee and hot cocoa under the snow flakes falling in between our warm words.
We’d give a parting hug, longer than expected, if I ever saw you on the street; our chance meeting a bit of brightness on an otherwise snowy day.
Author: Jessie Wright
Editor: Travis May
Image: Movie still