People had been talking about Monday since the Thursday beforehand. Seventy-four degrees was something to talk about after six months of winter. Everyone had plans in advance: skateboarding, grilling, having meals al fresco. It was like organizing a birthday party for a group of eager ten-year-old children.
I met an old friend for lunch, someone I have known since 1998. He was a senior and I was a freshman. I remember the first time I saw him he was wearing a blue polo shirt and white shoes. He had skinny little ankles and big feet.
He used to drive me to school in a black Ford Mustang with a black leather interior. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory and Chili’s Bar and Grill. I read Maxim magazines on his bed and painted him things back when I used to paint. We dated until I was nineteen.
We had only seen each other twice in the last seven years, on account of boyfriends and girlfriends and life in general. He asked about my family and I asked about his. His brother was in high school. My brother was finally graduating from college. Our respective parents were still the same, proof that people and their personalities were permanent things, immovable like ten-ton stones.
He ordered a chicken sandwich that he didn’t eat. I ordered hummus and pita that went similarly untouched. We talked about boys and girls and dating. “Are you seeing anyone right now?” he asked. I scoffed, rolling my eyes while I chewed on a piece of pita bread. “Yeah, no.” I was sick of that old story.
We drank water until there was nothing left in the glass. We picked at our plates until the waiter took them away. We asked for the check, paid, and left.
The outside air was balmy and warm and creeping towards 80 degrees. My tights were a needless accessory and my leather jacket equally excessive. The streets buzzed with a pent-up energy. People laughed and spoke animatedly, swinging their shopping bags around in the victory of feeling new. Everyone collectively felt the burdensome oppression of the last six months lift briefly, like waking up from a coma and realizing you’re still alive.
We wandered aimlessly though downtown, stopping in stores and not buying anything. He told me about girls I couldn’t relate to, girls that I secretly wished I could be myself. Gold diggers, users, ambitionless things who just wanted Range Rovers and guaranteed alimony payments. Sometimes I wanted to stop thinking like a boy and start behaving like a dumb girl, ready for breeding and little else.
Eventually we ended up in the back patio of a bar that always smelled like rotting wood and old beer. I asked for a glass of the least dry red wine they had. Bordeaux. My friend ordered a Grey Goose on the rocks, the same vodka he drank in high school.
The hours passed lazily until he had to go back uptown. When we hugged I felt an understanding of history and its importance. There were people who would always know you better than most, even if they had missed the years in between then and now. We were still so similar, he and I, though the lives we were living now were so different than before.