The dream I left behind

It was one of those moments. One of those moments that you watch on TV, where in a big, crowded area, time and space still manage to stand still, to the point where only you and what you see, hear and feel are all that you are aware of. And after a moment of forever, everything leaps back to exactly the way it was, and the moment is gone. But the memory of it still lingers, as does as the thought of what you could have done and how you could have reacted in that moment, which lasts for only a second to everyone else but you.

I used to imagine those moments: what I would do and what I would say when I saw you. I would alternate in my mind between smiling, waving, asking the perfunctory “How are you?” before sweeping off — and shifting my weight from one foot to the other and avoiding making eye contact with you the way I always did — so many years ago, it felt like.

But I never thought it would be one of those moments where my entire being would just seize up and I would have to look away, not for any other reason but the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to call out your name because of the person walking beside me. I also knew that even if I had hailed you, I would not have known for the life of me what to say to you. For what do you say to someone with whom you have had such an unnecessarily complicated, emotionally draining history — a history that was so abruptly eradicated because one person no longer had the strength to keep writing and living that history? What do you say to someone whom you have so much to say and yet no longer any reason (that anyone but yourself can think of) to say it to?

Sometimes I find it almost impossible to believe how far we’ve come — or far we allowed it to go before it all spiraled out of control. And yet, seeing you at the top of that escalator in Tropicana City Mall, looking you straight in the eye for that split-second, receiving your message later asking if it had in fact been me that you saw, and realizing at last that it’s as if we’ve never known each other, I suppose it’s not so hard to believe after all. It just reminded me that everything we had was never real.

You were the movie in my mind. The dream you made me leave behind.

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