Between Then and Now

It could be said that the moment was funny, but it wasn’t.

It was painfully nostalgic, to be surrounded by friends, laughing, talking, eating delicious food, when all the memories of past times in that restaurant came surging forward, played in order from recent to far, until it stopped on you.

Not even you, just your voice. At the time I barely even looked at you in my haste to clean the sauce off my face and hands. I felt like a pig, almost too shocked to be humiliated. That memory sank in right as my teeth sank into the succulent, spicy meat. The food became ashes in my mouth. The voices around me echoed hollowly, and all the festivity became distant.

I still ate. I ate every bite, but I was far away, lost in the alarming need to be with you. But you weren’t there, and I have adjusted to unexpected bouts of emotional upheaval, so I smiled and socialized while missing you.

In the end I laughed myself sick and left early, dreaming of books and tea, the smell of flowers, and long, long talks.

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