My blasts from the past always show up at the most inopportune times. My hair is usually undone, or I’ve just thrown on any old thing to take a quick trip to grocery store. I don’t know how often I’ve run into an old high school or college acquaintance after a 60-minute workout. My sore muscle hobble and paint-splattered sweatpants are the perfect look for a reunion.
These days, I need to be even more careful. I have to look out not only for my appearance, but E’s as well. Nothing raises an eyebrow faster than a snotty-nosed kid with fuzzy braids and graham-cracker-crumbed T-shirt. And you lose even more points if you accompany a disheveled child while being dressed to the nines.
Luck was on my side a coupe of weeks ago, however, when a familiar face walked into my doctor’s office. I looked down at my outfit to check that it matched and threw on a little lip gloss while I tried to put a name to the face. It was Andre, the best friend of my ex-boyfriend, Glenn.
Glenn and I were high school sweethearts. We tried to sustain our relationship through college and grad school, but neither of us knew how to deal with change. Instead of growing closer, we only ended up hurting each other. We broke up after my first year of grad school. The next summer, Glenn went to Switzerland with a girl from one of his classes. Or maybe it was Sweden. After a month away, he called to see when we could see each other again. I told him that we couldn’t. That was seven years ago.
When Andre walked into the lobby that day, he stopped at the sign in sheet, took a seat, and dialed his cell phone. I though about how I would approach him, because I wanted to seem only mildly curious.
The truth is, I was itching with curiosity. I’ve always wondered what happened to Glenn. I wanted to pull out the score sheet and compare our lives blow for blow. I wanted to be triumphant, and most of all, I wanted a story to share with my girlfriends.
The receptionist called me to fill out some paperwork. Andre stood and walked toward me. He handed me a slip of paper with Glenn’s name on it. I faked surprise.
“Oh, wow! How are you?”
We chatted for a moment. He told me that Glenn’s in Phoenix; he’s been there for a few years. Andre said that he recognized me right away, and he called Glenn to see if he wanted to keep in touch.
The nurse called my name to escort me to an exam room. I could barely sit still during the appointment. Did Glenn ever pursue his dream of fashion modeling? How did his fling with electrical engineering turn out? Did he continue a long-distance romance with the white girl he took to Sweden? Or was it Switzerland?
After a week and a half of phone tag and a brief interruption of telephone service (his, not mine), Glenn and I finally had a chance to talk.
His life was good. He moved to Phoenix for school, and he ended up working full-time for an insurance agency. Yes, he is still single (“You know me,” he said), but he is in a new relationship that seems to be moving in a positive direction.
I told him about my last seven years. About my guy. About E. About my family. “Yes, my brother is in college now, you wouldn’t recognize him.” I told him that I cut my hair. “It was just more me,” I said. He agreed. I was surprised, because this is the guy who would check every trim after a visit to the hairstylist.
We said our goodbyes after two hours. We promised to keep in touch.
And surprisingly, I meant it. After I got the information I wanted, it no longer seemed important. It simply was nice to catch up with an old friend.
E woke up from her nap, and we went into the backyard to blow bubbles. Details of the past two hours were overshadowed by her giggles as the bubbles floated in the air. It appears that I let go of the past a long time ago.