The holidays have a way of wrapping around your house in fits of projects and chaos. Every counter in my parent’s house is stacked with Christmas cards, empty tins, and half-drank mugs of hot chocolate. Add an enthusiastic (but messy) sixteen year old who has just finished her finals, a groggy twenty year old who just returned from his stay-up-all-night-and-video-game sleepover and you have the perfect conditions for too much holiday cheer (for me).
I needed to leave the house. And work on my thesis.
So as a classical graduate student, I jumped in the car (as old as my groggy brother) and drove to the nearest Starbucks. The three teenage girls huddled around their grande lattes talking quickly about “remember when…” already brought smiles to my face. I turned the counter, scanning the drink menu, only to let my eyes land on the busy barista.
I recognized her immediately. I would have recognized her anywhere! My best friend from 5th to 8th grade stood behind the counter, taking a woman’s six-bags-of-coffee-and-load-this-giftcard-and-I-want-a-misto order. She did not see me (customer’s first!) but I watched her hurry and fill coffees.
Isn’t it odd how we can remember nothing yet everything about someone? How she pressed the coffee drip pot with only her fingerprints was in her exact mannerism. How she asked questions and inflected her voice matched perfectly to ten years ago. Her hair was tousled back in a bun and I loved how she kept that same side-swept poof with only a headband.
After the woman left, she looked up and shrieked my name. We laughed at meeting each other there and chatted quickly about a mutual friend. I then asked her about her birthday only four days before. (Which it is a great wonder to me that I cannot remember my PIN number but somehow every year remember her birthday.) She smiled, said it was grand to be twenty four, and rattled off my birthday date in February. Taking my order was awkward for us both (why must we ever order from people we know?) and I quickly side stepped away for the man wanting his blueberry scone.
How can we remember and forget someone all the same? I sit only a few tables from her now but yet she holds memories that I could never perfectly share with even my dearest friends from college. She is a living time capsule of cute boy’s pseudonames, late night teas and cookies, and fears of going to high school. She remembers one of my first jazz classes because she was in it. She can tell you what my cursive looked like when I stared writing my “K”s differently (she helped me develop it).
Though we may part on different paths, I guess we never stop treasuring people. So many unexplainable shared moments make those casual bump ins and half smiles mean so much more. Like the three teenage girls huddled around their grande lattes, our half smiles speak to what we are both thinking. Do you remember when?
I remember when dear friend and I am so glad we bumped into each other today.