The four of us sit around a small table, chatting with fervor. It has been too long, we say, over and over, so long that I don’t remember how it used to feel like. We have been given a rare chance, brought on by sheer luck, that has gathered us together in the same location, at the same time, without interruption. The ease in which we are able to meet stuns me. After weeks and months of careful planning, only to be destroyed by schedule conflict, we are able to come together by accident.
The first few waves of conversation send us into a frenzy. “You look so different!”, “What have you done with your hair?”, “Did you change your job?”, “What happened to you and that girl?”, and many others follow. There are too many questions to answer, too many things to share. We are urgent to realign ourselves together. We long to be a unit once more. Our voices rise, high and shrill, and the atmosphere in the cafe grows to a level of inappropriateness.
Only Christmas and 21st birthdays can bring us together like this. We always tell ourselves that our group is incomplete; as there is always someone who has other priorities. As we sit here drinking iced teas and chuckling at our past misdemeanors, we all know that reality won’t ever be as kind as our dreams. All the wishing in the world can’t keep us together. Perhaps it shouldn’t.
As I sit here and listen to the stories I would have heard firsthand if I had been there, I look at my chosen commitments. In the space of several years I have encased myself in a number of responsibilities, as we all do. And whether we realise or not, we have faded from the childhood photographs that reside in our minds. That smooth, full cheeked face is no longer familiar to me. I no longer feature in the adventures of my close friends either.
At the end of our short reunion, I ask for a photo. I usually dislike these sorts of things but I push past the temporary embarrassment. I need to remember this moment with a physical picture, something that I can grasp onto. It will be easier to delay the process of forgetting this way. I would do anything to slow down this process.