I'd not seen her in at least seven years. Given her lifestyle and given that she had failed to show at a close, mutual friend's funeral, I'd half presumed that she was dead. As heartless as it may seen, I took some comfort in that thought. Not that I was glad she might be gone, but that I could carry on my life, sure in the thought that we would never again cross paths, that I could put all the hurt and hatefulness behind me and carry on knowing that that chapter in my life was irrevocably closed. There was a certain relief in the thought that, just maybe, she would have found that final peace from those things that vexed and viced her for so long, that she was free of demons from which I failed to protect her.
To my unexpected relief, she is very much alive. She'd just gone so far afield from our old circle as to have walked off the the world. Now, as a product of capricious fate and of adulthoods ever expanding spheres of acquaintance, we are again in one another's company.
She's looking good, all things considered. She's acquired some color and put on some weight, which is good, since her chosen chemicals once kept her frighteningly skinny and her nocturnal habits kept her ghostly in complexion. It's good to know that those proclivities have gone by. The mutual friends that know her now, but that did not know her then, say she is as pleasant, honest, reliable and trustworthy, so she must have made a turnabout from who she once was. When I knew her she was a spriraling addict and little else.
When I was invited to the party that I knew she'd attend, I was terrified. I almost backed out. I was considering skipping it until I parked the car in front of the host's house. What would happen? Would years of unaddressed resentment come crashing back? Would there be tears? Would our very distance make the night awkward for all around? I was mortified, colorless, breathless.
What bothered me most, though, was the chance, however remote, that long-stilled feelings would avalanche across my heart and crush me under their tumult. I trembled at the idea that, confronted with her, everything that had made me cling to her, everything that made me ignore or forgive her betrayals, would again become immediate and I would find myself lost and in love with her despite all contrary wisdom.
This didn't happen. I felt no surge of eros, no wash of passion. I also felt no crush of resentment, no wave of disgust. I felt absolutely nothing at all.
I didn't speak to her the entire evening. I didn't so much feel the need to glance at her. We managed to go the entire night without ever really acknowledging one another and I don't feel I missed out for choosing not to reconnect.
It's good to know, really. It's good to know that she's still kicking around, living something that approximates a normal, healthy life. It's also good to know that there's nothing left there. That my heart of hearts has no more energy to devote to thoughts of vengeance or forgiveness, that that chapter of my past can be closed and left on the shelf for the rest of my days. I'm better off that way.
And, the sun comes up tomorrow.