I was worried we were becoming friends. Just friends, I mean. Strangers, really. It had been months since we’d spent any waking moments alone-together. I’d actually been spending so much time alone-alone that I was growing increasingly worried I didn’t know how to be alone with another person anymore. But everyone else had made other dinner plans, so for the first time in a long time we made our own.
I chose a spot outside on the patio, which was crowded with tables and chairs but not people. The mid-summer evening sun washed over my face as I took my seat, and I soon began to feel the latticed pattern of the metal chair imprinting itself on the backs of my bare thighs. You smiled at me from across the table and I tried to mimic one back. I wanted so badly to be able to talk about something - anything - that I could think only of nothing at all. As usual, you tried to fill the silence with sporadic bits non-substantial sentiment: You’re so beautiful, so cute. Things I used to love to hear but little did compliments inspire the conversation I now so desperately craved.
As we sat quietly looking at our menus, the barren hollows of my mind suddenly became inundated with a surge of thoughts that I’d been working so diligently to evade: I can’t tell if I have nothing to say at all, or if I have nothing to say to you. What did we used to talk about? I feel so disconnected, polar opposite. What did we used laugh about? Everything seems so senseless now; rudimentary and vapid. I glanced across the table just in time to see you look up and shoot me another grin. You don’t feel the emptiness. How can you not feel this emptiness?
“Can I get you folks started with something to drink?” Our waitress must not have realized that I’d been looking through the menu, not at it. You ordered yourself a beer, and upon my faux-panicked attempt to quickly decide from the sticky menu list full of choices, you gently pointed out that they had one of my favorites on draught. I’ll have that, yes, please – and I could tell you were proud that you knew me so very well.