Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Old Friends

I'm meeting with some old pals today for lunch way  up in Grit City.  I haven't seen them for years.  I worked at the factory with one of the women, R, when I was first hired.  She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen in a very folksy, Linda Ronstadt way.  She was married and pretty much kept to herself but for courteous hellos and goodbyes.  She never hung around to talk with me after work much to my chagrin.  Later on, however, we were both in the same grad program and got to be good friends, and while there, we took on another pal, V, a young girl from Trinidad who was working on her undergrad English degree.  R was tremendously smart and was a terrific writer.  V was at the top of her class.  I, by association, got noticed.  I worked hard to keep up with those two.  

I was almost romantically involved with each of them at one time or another.  Flirtations, really, but nothing serious came of it other than a few close calls.  That is why, I think, we all remained friends.  There is something endearing about the close calls, isn't there?  One never needs to suffer the pangs of a serious relationship.  There always remains the "what if" factor.  

I have seen R a couple times in the past twenty years.  The last time I saw V, I was with my wife in London where she had moved.  She had gotten married to an author of history books, and they lived an almost posh life in an apartment overlooking the Thames.  She took off from work for a couple days and drove us into the English countryside for some gentle adventures.  

I was separated from my wife within the year, and V became pregnant with her daughter a bit later.  I haven't seen her since.  Today, she is bringing her twenty-one year old daughter to lunch with her.  I talked to R on the phone yesterday when this all got arranged.  She said that V's daughter looks much like V when she was her age.  She is an English major at Oxford now in her second year.  What I didn't dare utter aloud was "Uh-oh."  

I can't say I'm not nervous about lunch.  We will all have to get over the shock of what time has made of each of us.  Beauty fades and is replaced by nothing good, though we kid ourselves we are glad to be done with all that, having "grown" in other ways.  But we each know the truth.  We'd love to be those True Beauties once again walking into a room to turning heads and inviting eyes.  There will be no flirting today, I think, unless I can't help myself and do something stupid.  

"So tell me something about yourself. . . ." 

The cleaning crew comes in a bit, and the house is a mess of cameras and lenses.  I haven't been taking photos; I've been marking lenses so the Leicas will know which lens is attached, and I've been basically taking inventory.  I have so much stuff, I misplace things and am quite often in a panic.  I'm washing the sheets and need to get to the gym early so that I can leave the house in time for lunch in Grit City which will be baking under the afternoon sun.  There is always a little nostalgia for me when I go there.  Such is the life of a hopeless romantic.  

Should I take a camera?  If I get any good photographs, you'll be the first to know.  

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