I had pictured variations of this scene on a fairly regular basis for almost four years. In the first year since the falling-out I usually imagined at least one of us being angry. As time went on, I was better able to imagine all being forgiven, but I still needed to see it for myself to know for sure. Because his transgressions were a response to mine I needed to know that he had forgiven me before I could truly forgive him. Sometimes I approached him and other times he approached me. For some reason I always imagined us each being alone when we ran into each other. At least no one who would ask for an explanation of our complicated history after witnessing the exchange. Before I started college the imagined circumstance was usually an event for which some of the college kids would return to the drain. For example, homecoming or a school musical. When I made my college decision the locations expanded to basically anywhere on campus because I knew that he goes here. As a result, the possibility of running into him stayed in the back of my mind but was not a serious concern. In some invented scenarios he recognized me right away, other times I had to re-introduce myself. I hoped that I would look good when it happened, as most people hope to when they run into someone they used to know. Oddly, I always assumed that I would know exactly what to do when it happened. But planning out my interactions with others doesn’t work because they never follow the script. Since I had no idea if he were still anything like he was four years ago, he certainly wouldn’t be an exception. Once school started I occasionally pictured myself telling him about what I have accomplished since the falling-out with the intention of proving something to him. It was silly, but these scenarios gave me more satisfaction than most of the others. In some versions our one conversation would be the end of all of it, in others we would see each other again.
The actual scene, which happened this week, was nothing like any version my imagination could invent. I was at a party hosted by one of my upperclassman friends. I was petting the cat and talking to a girl about Doctor Who because she said she liked my shirt. He slipped in quietly and no one drew attention to his arrival. I only noticed him because I happened to look in that direction by chance. Though he looked different from the last time I saw him at his high school graduation party I recognized him the moment he entered the house. When one has creeped on someone as frequently as I creeped before the falling-out, it takes longer than four years to forget their face. He disappeared into another room before he saw me, which gave me time to realize that this was that moment that I had simultaneously dreaded and anticipated since I was fifteen. I knew that I had to be brave or else god only knows how long I would wonder what would have happened. When he returned, I started with, “Hey, did you go to Adrian High School? You look really familiar.” Though I knew exactly who he was, I figured that he probably didn’t immediately recognize me and that saying his name to get his attention right away would probably give him the idea that I expected him to. When another party guest greeted him I feigned realizing who he was and introduced myself. The conversation flowed in a fairly normal way: each of us gave a comment about the general state of our lives and noted that it has been a long time since the last time we saw each other. He introduced me to the girl he was there with. Girlfriend? Just a friend? While in the past I might have analyzed her more, it didn’t matter. There was no anger, no apologies, no urge on my part to prove anything to him, nothing that would give anyone a reason to think something was up. I don’t know how much he remembers of me or whether what memories he did retain were good, bad, or a mix of the two. Nor do I know if I will speak to him again. At least now I can finally truly move forward and take the rest as it comes.