I don’t want to be too early. Or too late. Or right on time. Like some fucked up Goldilocks. Everything has to be perfect. As usual – I always have to be perfect. I never am.
Still, it’s been ten years and I’ve thought about this moment so many times since that first, last meeting. I wanted him then, but was too scared to say it. Will I be braver now?
I get off the train and walk out of the station. Five minutes late – closest to perfect as can be. Good. Good sign. Or am I searching too hard?
There he is. I release a breath I didn’t realise I was holding. Up until this moment, I expected him to ghost me. PTSD I guess, or something. But here he is. He’s different, but at least we recognise each other. Another sign?
We walk to the pub. We chat. There are no awkward silences – that’s definitely a good sign anyway. He buys the drinks. I let him. We find a table and keep chatting. He’s not who I thought he was, who I realise I’ve created in my head over the last ten years. Is that a good or bad thing? I guess it’s too early to tell.
He moves his leg a lot – up and down, like a nervous tick. Except it isn’t, I asked.
‘Do I make you nervous?’ I smiled at him.
‘No,’ he said, ‘it’s just something I do.’
I’m not sure if I am pleased or disappointed with that answer.
Later, with the wine flowing through my veins like a dam had burst, the two of us sitting close together, our knees touching accidently on purpose, I want to reach over and put my hand on his leg. Quiet it. Be that calming influence, as if to say – ‘I’m here now, it’s all going to be alright.’
We go to watch his sister’s boyfriend perform. I meet her. She’s nice. His mother arrives – I did not expect that. I met her, that night ten years ago. She doesn’t remember me. I tell her her daughter looks like a Disney princess. She looks at me like I’m good news. At the bar, I buy the drinks. He lets me.
We watch the show. We leave. Go somewhere away from his mother’s smile. Another pub. It’s been seven hours, we’re still chatting. Easy.
It’s late now, and I’m drunk. My Uber’s on its way – the countdown ticking on my phone.
‘You have a minute and half to kiss me, if you were gonna do that’ I tell him.
He smiles. He does.
He’s not the same as ten years ago. Neither am I.