My phone dinged. I glance to see the message on social media and stopped.
It was an old flame from the past, estranged at best. There was a link. I rolled my eyes, thinking he’s probably been hacked, we hadn’t spoke in two lifetimes. What could possibly be said now?
I clicked on the message, expecting it to be trash.
And it wasn’t. It was directed to me, a news article about an event where I used to live. Without preamble, the words flew out of my thumbs: “Is that [redacted]?” He said it was. I also added, “Hello! It has been ages!”
This was disregarded as the ellipsis disappeared. He replied with more perfunctory verbiage captured in this article. It read like a radio report from the ambulances I used to overhear in the Emergency Room. Just the facts, please, and quickly.
And that was it. The line went dead. It was like I saw an apparition that held my gaze for a moment, turned, and disappeared into wall. I sat back, wondering. It felt so weird.
A part of me wanted to reach out with 1,000 questions. How are you? What are you doing now? Are you in the same town? What is your job? Where do you live? Are you with the same girl? What are your hobbies? Do you ever get back to [place we had in common] or see [person we used to know]? Do you have a church home? What are you successes? How are you struggling? How’s your family? Do you get back home often? Where have you traveled? Tell me a story. Tell me everything.
In short, who are you now?
As the list of questions spun in my head, I realized the same of myself.
He didn’t know me anymore either.
Despite my cries of I haven’t really changed at all in the past two decades or so, the truth is I have. I’m quite a good cook now; I make most of my meals from scratch and my breakfasts are vegan. I’m a huge coffee snob. My understanding of God has changed; I’m a contemplative who doesn’t prescribe to SBC regulations. I love aunting. I can crochet. I have a healthier lifestyle. I did Bikram yoga in the pre-pandemic days. I’m gardening and learning so much, like two languages. I write. I still get myself caught up in crazy adventures. I still run like I used to. My depression morphed into anxiety and it’s been a struggle. My spiritual gift is hospitality and I’m sorry it wasn’t refined in days when I knew him.
But I asked none of them. And neither did he.
One of the last times we spoke, I poured my heart out about work – our professions are related – and he said nothing. When I asked about him, he replied, “Fine.” And then he had to go.
It is all like a poltergeist, just making noise to be heard as it’s passing through. Trouble is, I’m sensitive to these things.