It’s about 4 pm in the afternoon, third week of October, and winter is coming soon. I’m a middle aged guy, 39 to be precise, trying to grab a quick coffee at the Wayne’s. I just went to Ivy Lane, a florist just a block away from the coffee shop to get some flowers for house decoration my wife asked me. The girl told me it would take around 20 minutes to arrange the flowers, so I decided to get some coffee while waiting.
I entered Wayne’s, a pretty small coffee shop and café. I ordered a glass of Americano, passed through the cash register, and I was looking for a seat when I thought I saw someone I know, sitting next to the empty seat I was going to sit on. “Josef?” She called my name, she said it with a question mark. “Dorriane?” I asked her back, looking as surprised as her. Then she said, “Oh my God, do you even still remember me? How are you?” And then in a split second everything from the past came back, or almost everything.
“Sure, of course I do! I’m fine I’m fine, and you look good! How’ve you been? Geeze, it’s sure been a while, I mean, 15 years maybe?” She nodded quickly, and said “Well thanks, and yes probably that long since we last met. Listen, why don’t we have a chat for a while, we sure have so many things to catch up with.”
“Yes, yes why not, I’m waiting for the flowers from Ivy Lane to be finished so I’m going to stay for a while, are you waiting for someone?”
“Yeah, I’m waiting for my driver to pick me up, I have to be home before dinner, but I think he got stuck in the traffic.” She explained.
“Well I can drive you home if you don’t mind, where do you live? I offered her a ride. “Not far, I live at the north, you know Sunny Hills? Just a few blocks before the Madison Square?”
“Talk about timing! I need to pick up my daughter from her violin course at Madison in about 1 hour, so I guess I can you give a ride before that.” “Sweet, thanks! I’ll tell my driver to just go home.” I then grabbed an empty chair, put my glass on the table and started to talk with her.
We had a pretty good chat. She was still with her cheesy jokes, clumsy ideas, and stupid questions, and it’s not a surprise that I didn’t find that annoying at all. Maybe it’s something I love about her. The way she could make me feel smart, in the same way she could make me feel like I don’t have to be the smartest guy on the earth to impress her. It’s like being young again, talking to her.
We pretty much talked about the past, and for so many reasons, it made me sad. If there was an actual saying for the situation, it’s that she’s “the one that got away”. She was the girl who showed me love for the first time, she was also the person behind my first real heartbreak, if there ever was. She was my baby, I watched her growing up from a teenage girl to a real woman. It was unfortunate that we had to part before I know her as a woman.
It’s funny how I remember she told me that most of the people in the world won’t marry the people who they really love. And it’s such an irony that it happened to me, or from what I believe in. My wife’s a loving person, she’s a beautiful, strong, independent woman, and I love her, but there’s something in Dorriane that I couldn’t find in any other woman, and I hate the fact that I still think about it that way, even after all this time.
“I think it’s time to go.” She told me. “Yeah I think it’s time, okay so why don’t you grab your coat and wait next to the entrance while I get my flowers from Ivy lane and get my car down here” I told her, while grabbing my coat, half running to the door. “Okay!”, she agreed.
I went to Ivy Lane and paid for the flowers quickly. The florist told me that she gave some extra flowers to clear today’s stock, I put the flowers on the back seat of my car and fetch Dorriane in front of Wayne’s.
“Get in,” I said to her, while opening the car’s door from the driver seat. “Thanks,” She hummed, while slowly entering the car.”
It was a slow drive to Madison square, with a little bit of traffic and a little piece of nostalgia, from the songs we listened to in the car.
“You still listen to these things? That’s great!” She asked me. “Yeah, I don’t really listen to new songs, so I listen to almost similar sets of songs for years, how about you?” I asked her back. “Me too, I guess we turned out to be a boring adults, huh?” She joked.
“Well at least I think we got wiser, you know how they say we trade youth for wisdom, let’s just say that it’s all true.”
“Yeah! Let’s hope so!” She laughed.
It’s an old, unfair story that I shared almost all of my favorite songs to her in the past, so it’s almost impossible to hear the songs without remembering her.
“It’s odd, isn’t it, that we never ran into each other before this? I mean, all these years, and we have to meet again today, after 15 years, and just to realize that we are only separated by 20 miles.” She said.
“Yeah, well, I guess twenty miles is a long ways sometimes.” I told her. I know it’s a little weird that we never come across to each other before, but maybe it was because I was kind of avoiding her. I avoided any contacts with her, and tried not to know anything about her, not because I don’t care, it’s just because I don’t want things like this to happen, and my friends thought that this was the best for me as well.
The rest of the way we didn’t’ really talk, except for her giving directions to her house. “Turn left there, and that’s it, the second house after the junction.”
“Ok, let me park here for a while”
I got out and come around to open the door for her, behind us I can see her house. It’s a nice house, but it’s not something I expected from her.
“I’m very happy that we finally meet each other today, feels like nostalgia,” she said. “We probably won’t see each other again.”
“Well it costs me a fortune to see you, let’s just see, we might bump to each other again tomorrow, who knows?” I told her.
“Yes dear, we’ll never know what’s gonna happen.” She added
For a second there I really wished that I can travel back in time, and I don’t really care if I have to trade it all, the hard works I’ve done, the popularities I’ve gained, and all of the money I’ve earned, just to go back to 17 years ago, at the karaoke room, to a night when she kissed me for the first time. One brave kiss that started all of this, a kiss that changed everything. It was really long time ago, but it appeared in my mind like it was only yesterday.
I came back to her. I didn’t know what to say, I wanted to kiss her though, and I did. I held her around with my arms and I kissed her, very slowly and gently. And she kissed me back, with just enough pressure against me, just to let me know that she’s remembering everything, too.
Then the ugliest thing happened, it all came to me like sets of bullets shot right through my mind, all the what ifs and the should haves. All the of things that I would do if I was with her, like going to daytime music concerts (maybe a classical as we get older), or watch some romantic movies before we go to sleep. I wanted to be in every part of her life decision, and I wanted her to be in part of my and our life decision, too. Like deciding the right flowers and songs for our wedding, choosing the furniture for our perfect white house, or buying the children book for our first kid. I want to go home to her every day, wake up to her every morning. I would take her to a picnic brunch, or just let her decides which fancy cafes we should visit next. I would get drunk with her, sip on our Moscatos before we get too old for that. Let’s live the ice cream cone and vodka life, let’s live life the way it supposed to be, together, side by side.
“I guess it’s time, I have to pick up my daughter.” I stepped back and said that.
“Let me guess, Zooey? Is that her name?” She asked me. “Yeah, you still remember that, I guess the anti-aging products work well, huh?” I joked. “Hey, I’m not that bad at remembering things, okay?” She replied.
“I think I’ve got something for you, wait.” I then grabbed some of the flowers at the backseat and gave it to her. “The florist got me some extra flowers, so I think it’s okay to give you some.” I told her.
She stared at the flowers for a while and smiled, “Peonies?”
“Yes!” I second her. “Well thanks a lot then, so see you when I see you, I guess?”
“See you when I see you, Dorriane.”
Still smiling, she gave me a slow gesture of goodbye wave, as if dismissing me, and then went inside. I got back to the car and start driving. All of this time I’ve been praying for her happiness, but I didn’t have the courage to ask her if she was really happy or not, I guess because any of the answers would be terrifying for me. I looked to the flowers which now is on the front seat. It was her favorite flower, I remembered that. I used to be her favorite, too.
Having to drive and pick up my daughter was the only thing that stopped me from crying. I mean I’ve got nice cars, big houses, and all the other good stuffs, but that does not mean a goddamn thing. Because the best things in life aren’t things, and maybe this is just how life works. Maybe for some people it would never be fair, maybe for some people, they have to fell in love the hard way. Time’s gone , and it’s never returning, I concentrate on that. I can hear the strong wind outside from inside the car, and I saw Zooey waved her hand across the street. This winter is going to be so cold, I said that to myself.