When I Thought I Saw You Five Years Later


I thought I saw you. 

Let me be a bit more honest.

I was certain it was you. I stared. I tried to calculate the chances. I even tried to casually take your picture from across the cafe while I sat at the table with my husband and his family. I needed to share the image with a friend- because my heart skipped a beat and then raced. My mind spun uncontrollably, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.

What would I say to you 5 years later? How ironic I thought it was that I’d heard we lived continents apart, but still wound up in the same coffee shop, off a main street, at midnight?

You’re wearing a plaid shirt, sneakers, jeans a size too big and on too loose, same look all these years later. You are seated with your side to me. Same smile, same hand gestures.

I hadn’t thought about you for a while. Sure, fleeting memories, but it wasn’t until I was sure we were 15 feet apart that my heart started to panic.

I desperately needed a better look. Excusing myself from the table, I made my way to the bathroom, conveniently closer to where you are sitting. Hoping that this would give me a better viewpoint, but I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact. Instead I wound up in the bathroom – standing in a superman pose trying to gain my composure.

I try to visualize the conversation. I’d stroll up the stairs from where the bathroom was located. We’d make eye contact. I’d smile. You’d be surprised. “Oh! Hi!” I’d say, pretending I hadn’t seen you there. You’d introduce me to the woman seated at your table, and I’d point lovingly at my husband – in an attempt to up the ante. Knowing full well you’d heard all about my wedding. We’d share some pleasantries, an awkward silence, and an attempt at a graceful exit.

We had separated on amicable terms, but with both hearts broken. It’s not clear what had me in such frenzy. Or what I could be expecting from a run in with you. I guess this is the result of seeing someone out of context.

So much more than just seeing you, is the realisation of how much time has passed and things have changed. I’m such a different person now, and so far from the person you used to know, and it’s not because of you – but it kind of is.

Not because we broke up, but how much growth happened through our relationship and afterwards. 

I’m hit with simultaneous feelings, the desire to share with you everything all at once, and embrace you as a friend or to put on a nonchalant face, showing you how unfazed I am with seeing you.

I ruffle my hair to give it a little volume, take in a deep breath and reach for the door. I climb the stairs at a steady pace, still trying to level my breathing. You are in a deep eye lock with your lady friend, and all I get is the side of your face.

I’m back at my table. Still the same view I’ve had all along. The food has arrived, but I can’t touch it. My stomach is still in knots. Am I judging my own life through this chance encounter, trying to figure out everything that has happened since we last saw one another? Or am I just trying to figure out how I want to be perceived by someone that I used to know. I’m distracted and not in the mood to engage with others at the table. I’m happy everyone is tired from the long day of touring and we all eat quickly and quietly.

The check comes. We are leaving the table. It all happened so fast.

Social media tells me that you checked in 5,437 miles away 4 hours earlier – but I’m still only partially convinced it wasn’t you.