"Oh, no. I'm going to throw up, I really think I'm going to throw up."
Sitting curled into the chair in the corner of the bookstore, a paperback protectively sheltering my face from sight, I saw her. The thought raced through my panicked mind as my insides suddenly clenched into a one ton brick.
She looked the same, exactly the same. Slim and spare, her small and yet so powerful figure was unmistakable.
We had scheduled this "accidental" meeting, this opportunity to finally look into the other's face and move on from the past. But my heart had been pounding a staccato beat since I walked in the door and my breath was short and compressed from the weight of anxiety on my chest.
I watched her, from my chair, for a few more minutes. Then, taking a deep breath, I folded the book into my purse, straightened my shirt and walked over.
When she turned towards me, her eyes, blue-green and bright and completely clear, undid me. I started to cry.
"Hi!" We hugged, laughed nervously, hugged again, and joked at my impromptu theatrics. I tried in vain to hide my suddenly shaking hands and voice.
We talked until the store closed, then moved to a new location and talked some more. Nervous laughter punctuated the brief pauses as we both tried to find a place to start. I listened to her, rediscovering her humor and vulnerability and trying so hard to learn her again without the taint of what I once thought I knew.
The biggest impression of the evening? I was happy, so HAPPY, so unbelievably joyful to simply be where I was; with my friend.
It was late, nearly midnight when we finally admitted that it was time to go. Sitting in my car in the empty lot, a brief silence fell between us.
"I just want to say...", I stumbled. "For the record... about everything... I'm sorry for..."
She waved her hand through the air, sweeping my words away. "I know. It's so far under the bridge, it's.... Me, too."
"I just wanted to make sure you-"
"I totally feel the same-"
"Okay, well, as long as you know how I-"
"Yeah, I do, really, it's-"
There we were, alone in the dark in an abandoned place. We hadn't seen each other in a year and a half, at least. Hadn't really talked in even longer than that. Yet, after only a few hours together we were once again completing each other's thoughts.
In some ways, I've always resented the burden of all the years in our history together, as if that time of shared stories held us back from progress or new potential. Today I am grateful for that anchor because it holds me, will or nil, to a person I honestly want to know anew.