“It’s difficult to think about life when you’re living it. You know what I mean?” He sat across from her. They both had ordered coffee. It was a little past one o clock and the café was close to empty. The intimacy of the two had never dissipated over the years. The two, had known one another for over a decade.
“I think I know what you mean.” She lifted her cup of coffee, creating an encouraging silence for him to continue.
“Well, I guess, I never thought I would end up where I am. It’s easy to think about the past. I know exactly what happened and the results of the decisions that occurred. The present, if I can think about it, is moot. I never fully understand what’s happening right in front of me. The future is even worse. I can’t even imagine where I’ll be in the next six months. I’m just tired of it all. The constant struggle of trying to figure out what’s right for me. I just want to settle.” He picked up his coffee and took a deep sip. “I’m tired, that’s all.” He mumbled the last of it, as an attempt at surrender.
“I’m tired too. At least you’ve done something. I haven’t accomplished anything the last couple of years. I’m in the constant, stagnant, cycle that’s terrible. I know what I’m doing. I’m not happy with what I’m doing. I’m still doing it. I guess that’s the definition of crazy. I am crazy.”
The two looked at one another for a moment. He was the first to break eye contact and veered his eyes to the table. His lips creased flat and his brows furrowed. She was left looking at his physical response and decided to look into the half empty cup of coffee. The coffee had left ringlets inside the cup. Each swig she took, left an almost perfect mark of what had transitioned into the past. In her head she counted the number and realized she had taken four sips that left her halfway through the cup. It was the only thing to distract her mind from trying to figure out what he was thinking.
He stared at the brick wall next to the table. His initial impulse was to dig in and tell her she needs to stop. That what she was doing isn’t her. He realized that wouldn’t help the situation. It would only remind her of the hopeless situation that she found herself in. Instead he was trying to find positive moments that she shared with him over the years. He searched his mind through the phone calls, text and emails that they shared while he was in and out of town. In and out of her life. In his mind, she was still exciting and brilliant. It was a rare and unique energy that he seldom found in other people. Her wit, when it was on, would leave him in hysteria. His ribs and stomach would be sore later in the evening. The creative, insightful flow that she had, left him in amazement. The talent, mostly wasted, held him in disappointed envy.
“You’re not crazy. You’re in a terrible rut. You still have time to pull yourself out of it.”
She still kept looking at her cup. The distraction of counting lead her to guessing how many more sips it would take to finish it. “It’s not a rut.” She looked up in defeat. “A rut doesn’t last this long. A rut is a day. A week. A month at most. This has been years. No, this is not a rut. This is me.”
His only response was him shaking his head no. The two looked at one another. This time he didn’t look away. He had nothing he wanted to say. She looked at him searching for what he was thinking. Finally, she smiled. Her smile brought him to mirror her. The two began laughing. Neither knew what they were laughing about, but they found happiness in it.
After a minute or two she finally asked, “what are we laughing about?”
The laugh still lingering in his voice, “I have no idea, but it feels good, doesn’t it?”
The two filled the rest of their time talking about the future. About what they wanted to accomplish. How they were going to do it. Both never felt confident that what they said was going to actually unfold, but it was a nice moment, where anything was possible.
They both knew that this was going to their last conversation in person for a while. He was off, leaving the city again. She was going to stay behind. The moment the two said goodbye, it was not a goodbye. It was until next time. That’s how they both left feeling. The further they were from one another, the realization of it being the last goodbye grew. The connection that they created a decade before, was slowly unraveling. The only part that grew and kept it together was the comfort that they always had. That they could not see one another for a year, or an hour, and it always felt the same.
The conversation never started with how are you doing it. It started wherever they left off. Even if it wasn’t the same conversation that they really left off on, it started in the middle of a conversation they had together. At least, a conversation they had together in their own mind.