I had a run-in with someone I was not expecting to see.
For years after the severing incident, which was my final straw at the ridiculous game of our relationship, the awful night looped in my body like a shock, aftershock, and onward with that same awful rotation. My stomach clenched every time I thought about her and how she treated me as though I was the battleground, though the war was never about me; it is the disease she has let rot inside her that affects how she treats people when their backs are out of view. An irreversible condition that is often camouflaged as sincerity.
It took a few years to finalize what I would say if I was forced to see her again, to really express the gravitas, what words I could project after that night when her skewed perception, this time, aimed its shot at me. I don’t think its possible to forget the first time when your body tell you its the last time it will accept that passenger.
Her performance yesterday was likely the best. A feigned maternal air of forgiveness made it appear to an outsider, maybe, that she was extending an olive branch–limp, stolen, and now moldy and ineffective. Her counterfeit way, her startling ease of expression, though the last words I had heard from her mouth were rude, loud. She lingered around, continued attempts at conversation, started a game of make believe where we’d pick up where we’d left off. If I were to guess, I believe she thought it went well and will likely report back about her success at poised, sisterly sentences, even boldly asking about how my father is doing or how work has been or, my absolute favorite, to take a picture of her since it’s been years.
One can argue that I was counterfeit as well, relying on the decorum of the event to help me salute the way I received her. A friend may have wanted an explosive declaration, those redemptive moments that are most visually vibrant. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the one screaming this time, acting out of character despite the crowd?
But what good is all of that energy when you’ve been given a different, most unexpected, most fortifying gift?
What time gave me was the gift of indifference. As the sun rose this morning and I scanned my body again for its reflections, I recognized that word as my blessing: indifference. No quickening heartbeat, no fearful pull for flight, no desire to recall what I had wanted to say, no feeling of anger, no feeling of hurt, no feeling of sympathy, no feeling of friendship, no feeling of a shared past, no disappointment, no youthful forgiveness, no desire to speak anymore, no feeling of anything. All that woman earned from me yesterday was a shrug.
I think of this me standing in the bright sun and heat of the afternoon feeling absolutely nothing, invoking bland conversational skills, even less thoughtful than when asking where the customer service counter is so I can return that heavy bag that has been taking up space in the back of my car for ages, and I’m convinced that the body can be trusted.
What an incredible gift of mind and body, an unexpected peace I could have never predicted, that if it weren’t for the calm it spread all over my sensors, would be somewhat startling.