I grip the steering wheel of the parked car, working up the nerve to cross the lot and enter the bar.
The doors of my jetta hold me in. I can stay here forever, till I choose to spill out and into whatever the night holds. Already, the setting sun floods the scene before me, dressing the world in gold. It’s time.
My body holds me back: “Not yet.”
Adjusting in my seat, I straighten my jacket, sweating in spite of the chill. No matter. The bright cold shivers with me in a kindred, anxious kind of way.
This can’t happen if you won’t go.
The car rings as I slam the door shut.
I’m first to the bar and notice my favorite table’s open, tucked up by the front corner window. Sliding in along the left, I trust the weathered wall of bricks behind me to lend some surety.
This is it: the moment before anything can happen.
A couple of minutes later, he presses through the door wearing an easy smile, all casual and collected, even though experience tells me he’s anything but.
But experience hasn’t had a lot of data to pull from in recent years.
People talk about finding your way back to each other. As if moving backward is an option. As if the both of you have been lost in the in-between.
But I haven’t felt lost in a good, long while.
“Would you like a beer?” Just a hint of nervous energy glints through his eyes.
We play it ordinary with the bartender, like we’ve done this every Monday night for the last three years.
Turning back to the table, conversation crackles. Jumping back and forth. Never rushed, but continually flowing.
Strange how smooth it feels to pick this up again: being one another’s favorite person.
Easy, Katy. No jumping to conclusions.
Meanwhile, someone could power this entire bar by converting the potential energy humming in the gap between his knee and mine.
While my head runs its turbines in the flow of conversation, my heart grows quiet and bold. I already know what I’m going to say tonight. I already know it never stopped being true.
We’re given a little over an hour before the reality of our small town life washes in, bringing the first familiar face. A brief exchange confirms the additional witnesses poised to descend upon us. I study our friend’s expression. He’s reading the beers in front of the two of us as warning signs of relational apocalypse. I can’t say that I blame him. But that doesn’t mean I have to face the entire convoy of naysayers tonight.
I turn back to the conversation.
“So this has been fun…it seems like we could be done for the night, or we could head somewhere else to talk.”
His eyes are surefire, toffee brown magic: “I don’t want to be done.”
We sneak away from the eyes and the questions to a place where we can ask some of our own.
A change in location brings a change in tone, confessions and recollections over who we were three years ago and who we are today.
“I don’t understand how are you here, talking to me after all that’s gone down.” he says.
“Well…” I orphan the word for a moment, inhaling before all that has stayed unsaid is spoken. “…I think it’s because I’m still in love with you.”
And then he’s here, sharing my space, catching me up in hot breath and whispers.
The terror of all that could go wrong swirls with the beauty of all that runs deep and right within us, and we are here for it.
Unsure of all that stretches before us.
In awe of the stories we’ve lived to share this story tonight.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 30 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called Will I Break?, and someday, that manuscript may see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.