I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Present, Meet the Past

I stopped in a department store yesterday, and just as the checkout clerk greeted me, I looked up and recognized her. She recognized me too. Have you ever been in a situation like that, and then quickly done a calculation—how long has it been? Twenty years? Man. Then you both sort of pretend that you don’t know each other. That’s the easy thing to do. That’s the way I handled similar situations in the past. But not now.

I’m not sure what you’d call the stage of life that I’m going through [stop shouting “mid-life crisis!”], but I know that my days of timidity and passivity are slowly fading away from my being. Such attitudes don’t really enrich life. In fact, they detract from it and cause you to wonder why you’re such a coward. And they make you wonder if you’re ever going to get to the point where you actually live. I’m not talking about dreaming about living. Or worse, watching other people live and wondering why you can’t be like them. Instead, I’m talking about interacting with people for the mere sake of it and not being worried about the results.

“You’re Michelle Johnson [not her real name], aren’t you?” I dated Michelle during my freshman year in college. It didn’t last long, and I don’t think either of us was devastated when it didn’t work out. We just moved on and never saw each other again. Last I heard, she was happily married to the guy I always thought she’d end up with—which I thought was sort of cool. Anyway, I realized after I said her name that I’d used her maiden name, which had to be weird for her to hear after all these years, but that’s how I knew her.

“Yes…” then a long pause.

“I’m Lee Warren.”

“Oh yeah, I was just about to say that.”

“What’s it been, something like 20 years?” I say sliding my card through the machine to pay for my purchases.

“I think so. So how’ve you been?”

“I’m hanging in there.”

“Yeah, me too. I’m going to school at night, working on my degree. So what are you up to these days?”

“I write for magazines and I have a few books out.”

“Really? Cool.”

She forgets to ring up a CD I had lying on the counter and we have to start all over again. So we do. She tells me that she has kids and that one of them is 19. I say “wow” because that’s what I say when I have no idea what I’m supposed to say. We exchange the obligatory “take care of yourself” and then I’m out the door.

While our encounter was nothing earth-shattering, or life-changing, it still had meaning to me. I got to talk to someone from my past and I got to see that she’s doing okay. Of course, I wondered whether or not that was really the case, but even if it isn’t, she wanted me to believe it was. And likewise, I wanted her to believe the same thing about me. And somehow, it seemed like enough.


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