About four weeks ago after a long day out with friends, we rambled into a few different restaurants in the now gentrified, formerly funky part of town while trying to get a table for four without a reservation. It was a busy day in the city center with both football and rugby matches taking place, and these small, but desirable establishments were all full to bursting. Fortunately for us, the couple we were with that night reside in the neighborhood and whereas most people would think of our final attempt – a modern Indian place – as a treat, they think of it as their second kitchen. So when we walked in soaked from the rain and tired from wandering about, they quickly accommodated us with a table in the front and brought us our drinks within minutes.
The dinner was as lovely as the hours which preceded it had been: great conversation, easy rapport, great friends and good food. If you are a regular reader or follow me on Twitter, you know that we only recently returned to the UK after a fourteen-year absence. Reconnecting with some people – like the friends we were with that night – has been easy and delightful. Others I have either approached with caution or avoided altogether, with a small group in the middle whom I’ve left to fate a la, “if we run into them, it’s meant to be. If not, oh well.”
One of my closest female friends when we lived here way back when was a woman named Jan. Jan is beautiful; astonishingly, naturally pretty, and married to a multi-millionaire businessman who is one of the nicest, most down to earth souls one could ever hope to encounter inhabiting the realm of the wealthy. As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant that evening at almost 11pm, I took one more run to the ladies’ before venturing out to find a taxi and on the way back to our table to join our group and depart, I saw Jan – plain as day, almost unchanged after so much time – sitting with her adorable husband having a meal. Unsure of whether I should approach her, I went back to my friends who insisted that I do just that. I walked up to their table and apologized for the interruption, and almost immediately, Jan yelled out my name, stood, hugged and kissed me and invited us to sit. We did not accept, not wanting to intrude, but we had what on first blush was a polite, warm ten-minute exchange before she put my number on her phone and we said our goodbyes with a promise of meeting up again sometime soon.
Except that we won’t; though I have likewise hardly changed on the outside, I have changed spectacularly on the inside. Based on the evidence of that evening, she has not. During our brief talk, she made two back-handed comments which were actually quite cutting, one of which was accompanied with an overt and prolonged eye roll. The first comment and the eye roll were to do with me and my past as a driven workaholic bitch; the other comment was about my sister. Jan had not – has not – changed; she is still beautiful, rich, married to a wonderful man with whom she shares two gorgeous children. And she is still a sniping, incomprehensibly ungrateful and ungracious wretch. But standing there that evening, she assumed that I was – am – as frozen in and by time as is she.