Friday Night Dinner with Friends

Imagine spending two hours with a stranger, thinking that he reminds you of someone. Vaguely.
Imagine talking, laughing, listening, joking, all the while wondering why it feels so familiar.
Imagine feeling like you know so little about someone you call a friend and there’s nothing more you need to know about someone you’ve just met.
Imagine being spontaneous and sparkling and thinking that you’ve done this too many times with too many people.
Imagine having dinner with Nostalgia and realizing over dessert, whose face its wearing.

It’s him. The last memory of him has him in a green shirt, just like this one. The spectacles are exactly the same, as is the square-cut face. Not an exact match since he was last seen, years ago. So this is him, is it? Older, nicer, easier to be with?

But wait, this isn’t him. It’s someone else. A perfect stranger. But my god, the resemblance! You can’t unsee it now that you’ve seen it. Present, dinner with friends merges into a frame from the past, nostalgia colouring in the details in this sketchy outline that is sitting in front of you. Him. HIM. HIM.

Odd it took so long to figure that out though. Really, really odd that someone who feels like he’s embedded deep inside, one with your cells, is so hard to recognise in the face of another. He eats a bit differently, though. He never used to like caramel custard and you don’t think he knew how to use chopsticks. The chopsticks click, the spoon clatters. And again the frame shifts. It’s not him. Someone else. Stranger. No, not a stranger. A friend of a friend. You turn to look at the person you arrived with, clinging to the present, to a notion of who you are now.

Maybe memories crumble like over-thumbed bits of paper and after awhile, all you have left is the vague recollection of something that used to occupy that place. A stray browned scrap of paper that floated off, after the original disintegrated. The memory of a memory.

You find yourself miles away from that once-so-familiar picture. That must have been someone else, a different you. That happened to someone else, someone who became the you that you are now. But that was another person it happened to. You find your hold slipping. You realise the memory doesn’t stick to your soul and prick you anymore. He? Who’s he? Who was he? Somebody that happened to someone you don’t even know anymore. You’re not a part of that story. That story doesn’t even exist in your world now, without you. It doesn’t exist because it is without you.

And here you are now,
in a world new enough to be interesting,
familiar enough to be comfortable.

And you’re having dinner with a stranger, not with your past.

* This is an older idea repolished and brought up again since it is still relevant.

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