(Listen to my rendition of the story & follow along with text below)
Friday is just another weeknight
Sparkling personality, biting wit
You feeling like you’ve done this before
too many times with too many people already
Order up your usual with an extra dash of boredom
You wonder why something across the room looks so familiar
You realise you know so little about those you call your friends
And there’s nothing more you need to know
about someone you’ve just met
Intimacy is not on the menu tonight
It’s Friday night
Imagine having dinner with jaded memory
And realising over appetisers,
whose face it’s wearing
It’s….it can’t be.
Your last memory together has them
in a green shirt just like this one
casually reaching for a cracker to dip into cheese
They come seeping out of that deep-freezer in your mind
Where you keep people and words and pieces of you
that you don’t look at anymore.
Nostalgia just dipped that fondue fork into your blood
And smeared it across your plate
You look at your friend
Cheers! What are we celebrating?
and turn back, shaking your head
They’re still sitting there
What do you do when you see the person who broke your heart
Sitting at the table next to you,
Cool as ever, over simmering cheese fondue?
They’re older. Wiser? Nicer?
What can you do?
You can’t hide.
Your table is too small. Your plate is too full.
You are too big for your skin. There’s no running away.
You wonder if you could wave and smile.
But your hands have turned into flowing water.
You are afraid of doing something utterly unforgivable
like stammering, dropping the fork, or worse –
bursting into tears, right over that silly cheese fondue.
All your defenses will crumble the minute they look at you.
You will turn into that molten lava cake
that you never order because it’s too messy.
All the time you spent turning yourself
into a bite sized version of yourself
so you are palatable to the world, fit for adult company.
In an instant, the years fall away.
The person you are, vaporises.
You are back to burning, with no one around to turn down the heat.
Nothing to do except let memory dot you with charred flecks
Wreck the war that it wages on your pulse rate, your ability to chew,
you tolerance for the acid of undigested experience, failing
The chopsticks click, the frame shifts
Shall we have noodles or rice?
You play another survival game – spot the differences
You’ve never eaten cheese together
That green shirt you remember, was a tshirt without a collar
They ate with their left hand
You’re pretty sure they didn’t know how to use chopsticks
Maybe memory is like adolescent poetry
Written on over-thumbed bits of tissue paper
Used to wipe away runny noses
and runaway hearts
ketchup stains that may be blood
and cheese smears and messy feelings
Till the original impressions are no more
You reach for that place in your stomach
that felt empty each time you thought of them
And you find it’s not even part of you anymore
Missing tangible memories,
Missing an appendage that you didn’t even miss
You realise that happened to a different you
You are not having dinner with nostalgia
You’re in a present new enough to be novel,
Familiar enough to be comfortable
Nothing cheesy about it
Life, one breath at a time.
Cheese fondue, in time too.
Your food arrives
And when you look up again,
the table next to yours is empty.