Your Memories Grow With You

I walked into that coffee shop as the same man I’d always thought I was. I left as someone I did not recognize. Surely that’s the way life was meant to be lived, but I could not decide if I wanted to accept that. Really, it just left me with a sense of emptiness…

Here’s the thing: Julia and I met about seven years ago in an after school Foreign Film Club. I knew nothing about foreign films and was just looking to get an extracurricular credit. She knew a lot about them and was hoping to learn more. I was the obvious interloper of our bunch, and I seriously considered leaving for some other easy credit… But then I met her.

She was beautiful… Inside and out. We started learning about each other… She said she wanted to be a lawyer to most people, to appease her parents, but she really wanted to get into graphic design. I wanted to write for a living. She had a deep passion for caring for the planet and for appreciating diverse cultures. I… had a fleeting interest in those things as well. She battled depression and crushing high expectations. I never truly explored the emotion of “sad.”

It was clear she was way out of my league.

So we grew close to each other in Foreign Film Club. For reasons not fully known to even her, she opened herself up to me, when her life had been closed to everyone else. I bumbled along in regurgitation of opinions and worldviews I’d only heard and never taken the time to consider for myself. Somehow, that didn’t seem to faze her. We grew close.

It was the first time I thought that maybe… Just maybe… This is what love feels like.

We grew apart after graduation. I went to a no-name community college, and she went to dazzling NYU. And we lost contact with each other…

Until two hours ago. I ran into her at the coffee shop.

We were amazed at seeing each other again and sat down to recount the last seven years of events with each other. Laughter punctuated our thoughts as we connected in an impossibly strange and familiar way. And yet…

And yet…

And yet…

I could not shake this feeling that something was off. Something was different…
Is this what love feels like?

For the past seven years, every so often, her stunning face would float into my consciousness and I’d wonder how she was doing and what goals she’d been achieving. I never forgot her. But I never thought I’d be sitting across from her again. And now that I had, she was exactly as I remembered.

After thinking back to our conversations years prior, I made the startling discovery that… It was I that changed.

I was no longer the awkward teenager searching for meaning and purpose… I was a carefree man whose come-what-may attitude and fence-sitter lifestyle grew shamed of his former self. And until now, I would have thought that was a good thing. Change is inevitable, so if one has to do so, it should be towards a better outcome. And I felt that I’d reached a better outcome, with more growth on the way.

But did this matter to Julia? The truth is, I don’t know if she felt the same way about me.

We left that coffee shop with a “we-should-do-this-again” sort of vague plan that usually fizzles out to nothing and I could not help but feel a pang of sadness as we parted.

Change is inevitable, but you don’t usually know that you’re doing it. The question remains to be answered: Can you reclaim the magic your memories hold? Or is it destined to be lost as your memories grow with you?

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