In 1981, a longhaired singer-songwriter named Dan Fogelberg released a song called “Same Auld Lang Syne.” It’s a melancholy little ditty about a musician who runs into his (now married) former lover at a grocery store. They drink beer in her car and share the stories of their lives. Then she drives off and leaves our hero to walk home alone in the rain.
In 2017 (last night actually) I met a former flame (FF) for dinner at Estelle Wine Bar and Bistro in the new Westin Hotel while he was in town for a conference. Starting a conversation with someone you haven’t seen or spoken with in 20+ years can be a tad clumsy to say the least. Relief came in Mason jars. Estelle’s jars were a trio of savory spreads served with crispy crostini and house- made pickled goodies. Awkward silences were filled with spreading and munching pimento cheese and rillettes of both the pork and salmon varieties. That snack coupled with a bottle of wine expertly chosen and poured by Cody Walker oiled our squeaky attempts until words flowed smoothly and warmly.
Like Dan and his girl, my old friend and I shared stories of events in our lives since we had last met. There was the requisite passing of phone screen photos back and forth. We bemoaned raising teenage girls and laughed over shared “remember whens” and “whatever happened tos.” We edged in some time to peruse the menu and being lulled into a sense of security by the warm, cozy environment decided to order big food with plans to share. The FF and I delved a little deeper into our pasts and presents. We giggled at old jokes and past adventures. We apologized for ancient heartbreaks, and we ate.
We ate like the 20-somethings we used to be. We split a decadent bigger-than-my-mouth burger topped with melted cheese and smoky bacon and snuggled next to a pile of perfect fries. We dug into tomato jam and citrus- capped grilled fresh redfish over tender lobster while we dug a little into our dreams that had crashed and the ones worth keeping close. The dessert menu looked divine, but - perhaps in that moment our reunion was sweet enough to sustain us. Time tick-tocked, the wine bottle was empty, and there was no way to avoid calling it a night.
FF and I walked out into an unseasonably cool evening and hugged goodbye with promises to keep in touch, or at least not wait twenty years to see each other again. Who knows how that will work out, but I was still a little glow-y from the wine and the remembering and the conversations. I was grateful that I hadn’t let this opportunity pass by. I waved at him one last time asIgotintomycar,andI swear, as I drove off it began to rain.