I walk into Ryan’s, a popular local bar, and back to the large group seating with low tables on the right.
“Hey, guys,” I say as I approach the table where Gary, my friend and former co-worker, and his friends are seated.
“Howzit!” they chorus.
They all stand and I hug each of them before taking the empty seat.
“How you feeling, Ariana?” Joe asks.
“Much better than the last time you saw me,” I chuckle.
The waitress walks over as she sees me joining the table and I ask for water.
“You not drinking?” Gary asks.
“After the alcohol poisoning I got from your grad party? I won’t be drinking for a while.”
Everyone laughs. They ordered pupus before I arrived. We sit and talk story as I get to know Gary’s friends better.
I look across the crowd in the middle of everyone chewing food and sipping on their drinks. My heart skips. A head of wavy dirty blonde hair is at a pub table near the bar. The head leans out and familiar brown eyes gaze at me.
“What?” Gary asks.
“Hmm?” I reply distracted still eyeing the guy across the bar.
“What you looking at?”
“I think it’s someone I dated a few years ago.”
“He’s supposed to be at med school in D.C. It can’t be him.” I turn back to the group taking a drink of my water and attempt to engage in small talk with Gary and his friends.
I glance over a few minutes later and those brown eyes are piercing me.
Our waitress approaches me and leans down. “That guy over there wants to know if your name is Ariana.”
I perk up. “Is his name J.D.?”
“I don’t know. He just asked me to come over here and ask your name.”
I turn to Gary and his friends. “Excuse me . I need to go talk to someone. I’ll be back.”
I walk down to J.D.’s table without hesitation or misstep. He is sitting there with a friend across from him.
“It is you,” I say smiling.
“And it’s you.” He smiles in return and his eyes light up as they always did when we were dating. He stands and engulfs my petite frame in his six foot tall athletic build. “This is my friend, Randy.” He gestures across the table as I take the seat to J.D.’s right.
Randy reaches across and shakes my hand. “Hi.”
“Hi, Randy.” I smile.
I turn to J.D. and take him. Same medium length wavy hair with a slight curl at the ends that I loved running my hands through. Same smile that drew me to him. Same bright brown eyes.
“I can’t believe it’s really you. You look great. What are you doing here? I thought you were in D.C.”
“I’m home visiting. What are you doing here?”
“I’m here with a friend and his friends.”
We catch up with what is going on in our lives and an old feeling of comfort and ease returns. He absently plays with my class ring on my ring finger as he often did when we dated.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Randy asks seemingly randomly.
I look across the table perplexed. “No.”
He points to my class ring.
“Oh. It’s mine. I wear it on my left hand to deter creeps and freaks.”
J.D. and I share a knowing smile.
“Hey, guess where I might be doing my residency,” J.D. says.
“I don’t know.” I shrug. “Johns Hopkins?”
He laughs and shakes his head. “Moloka`i.”
“No shit?” I ask incredulously.
“That’s so wild.” I sit back in my chair.
Randy looks at us both confused.
“My family is from Moloka`I,” I explain. “I go there as much as I can to visit my grandparents and relatives that still live there.”
“Ah.” He nods in understanding.
I gaze at J.D. So many questions I want to ask him and have answered honestly, but impossible to do in front of his friend.
Why did referring to you as my boyfriend to get another guy off my back sound the death toll for our relationship?
Why wouldn’t you talk to me about it?
Why did you get so belligerent months later after Summer Break when we weren’t together anymore?
Do you realize how much you hurt me back then?
“I better get back to my friends,” I say standing up. “Nice meeting you again, Randy.”
J.D. stands again.
“It was good seeing you again, J.D. Take care of yourself.”
He leans down and we peck each other on the cheek then hug one last time.
I walk back to Gary and his friends leaving J.D. behind; leaving the ease of being with the one person who understood I needed affection without sex at a time when I had very little trust in men and relationships.
Why was it so easy to be with you then and now, J.D.?
©Debi Smith, 2013