four years makes strangers

tonight i am thinking of lounging around in the basement of a jazz bar in edinburgh, doused in red light. we drank magners; our conversation came in snatches, drawing attention to the organist’s mustache or the solo on the upright bass. there was a thunderstorm outside; we walked back quickly down princes street, sharing an umbrella, our jeans soaked halfway up our calves.

we were sitting around a table, and i looked at each face, realizing sharply and suddenly how much we have changed. it’s true, we’ve aged. in good ways. like a cheese or wine. and like an aged cheese or wine, we’ve grown deep into ourselves, each with a strong and distinct taste. and some of these tastes don’t complement each other as well as we would have hoped.

this place is so strange: how the smallness makes us think we know each better than we do; how the fear of being unknown leads to saccharine niceness; how easy it is to accumulate insta-friends. how we live so much of our lives together and are still strangers; how we live so much of our lives alone and can still meet face-to-face, cry together, laugh together. how, suddenly, one thing shifts, and you realize: i don’t know you at all.

and i am thinking of the woman i thought i would have become by now. realizing twenty is not as old as it seemed. that, really, all this life is just one huge balancing act, and some are just naturally more graceful on their feet than i am.