Continued from here.
Yes, a telephone conversation happened. Yes, a meeting happened soon after. You didn't expect anything else after all the trials and tribulations up until that point, did you?
The question is, was it worth it? Had that lone encounter from so long ago taken on a significance completely out of whack with reality? Had the sense of anticipation and the one step forward two steps backward nature of the interceding months imparted a blinding halo around their meeting? Then there was the further question - what next? So what if they met? What did either of them expect to happen a day after they met? A week after? A month after?
The cloud of uncertainty followed each of them through the daily grind. Anticipation, sure. But uneasiness and anxiety too.
What neither of them had accounted for was the awkwardness. Make that shyness. It was a strange situation for both of them. Talking nineteen to the dozen with other people around them was one thing. Being left to their own devices, that too after a gap of months in which their actions amounted to an acknowledgement of each one's interest in the other, quite another story.
But a bumpy beginning was just that - a beginning. After the initial period of broken phrases and nervous giggles, conversation flowed as before. The anxiety and uncertainty dissipated. What each of them remembered was not a mirage. What each of them had built up in their minds was genuine. Without actually saying it aloud, they knew they would meet again.
I know this seems too swift a resolution to the build up, but in the grand scheme of things, actually seeing each other again and figuring there was something to their relationship pales in comparison to the difficulty of finding each after that first time they met. And it is diddly squat compared to what was in store for them right around the corner.
This is a good juncture as any to say this - they stood now at the cusp of the old and the new; on the line that separated a child from an adult, the past from the future. The only thing is neither of them thought of it that way - neither of them actually thought about what consequences their feelings and actions might have for the larger units to which they belonged. Nary a concern that all the other pieces of their lives would not fall in place, that the line they were about to cross was, in fact, a rapidly widening crevasse.
All they saw was the shiny outline of a future they wanted to grab a hold of. A promise of a certain way of life.
Yes, you can tell this in the span of a few hours - over a shared meal, in the space of a few conversations, in the demeanor and carriage of a person, in a glance so open and honest it lets you peek way into the past and into the realm of the possible, in the ready laugh, in the pathetic jokes, in the keen mind that can keep a banter going no matter the topic, in the sage eyes that tell you they are listening.
So, happy in the strength of their instincts, relieved that their minds had not played tricks on them, secure in the knowledge that the hereafter had just taken on a pleasing shape, they went home and told their parents.
If certain phrases in the story so far had implanted in you a sense of foreboding, I must reluctantly say it was for good reason.
Because - pardon the expression - the shit hit the fan.
To be continued.
Updated March 10, 2009: Continued here.