I got in to the reunion purposely late and did my best to avoid everyone, slowly working my way through the snack line as my eyes darted about the space under the outdoor pavilion, going from one transformed figure to the other. That disconcerting feeling sank in at every turn, observing the cumulative decade of metamorphosis from kids to adults among former classmates. I then picked out one of the far corners of the the garden space, where I just waited and watched. My spirit sank when the first to pick me out was Bud, immediately asking if I had seen Kitty yet. It was awkward, and I only said, “No,” with a hard jealous lump forming up in my throat.
“She was over with Janice by the washrooms. You know she’s looking for you.” he said.
“Looking for me?” I questioned back.
He smiled knowingly, “You know she never stopped? Always remember, I was the first to steal her from you, but she walked away with your heart and could never let it go.” Then he winked at me.
My head rose in a start to see her wide eyed, her hands clasped around her gaping mouth. In an instant, I was grabbed about the waist and knocked into a loop about the floor. “You came, you came, you came, its you, its you, really, really, you!!!!!!!” I held her every second I could. It was an embrace in which ten years of yearning was suspended as though it was all only a moment from yesterday, like that hug at graduation never ended. I pressed her into me as close as I could. I placed my lips against her head, but struggled not to kiss her outright then and there.
“Oh, who did you come with?” She backed off a moment and composed herself as she looked about in a panic.
“Just me,” I said.
“No one?” She smiled in anticipation and shrugged. Then she enquired deeper, “I mean is there anyone I need to meet out there, somebody your….” she looked down at my hands looking for something.
I held up my hands, wiggling my fingers and hurriedly said, “No, no its still just me only, I live in New York now…uh ah, alone.”
My mood shifted as the rest of the room came back into my consciousness. Everyone was staring at us from all around and smiling. Then I remembered Bud. There were so many strangers in the room, new significant others, fiancees, spouses, and young kids. I looked over them all, which of them could be Kitty’s?
Just then, another young vixen walked up next to Bud with a couple of young fox pups in her arms asking, “Well dear, tell me who this is?”
“Oh, a couple of my old old friends who’ve been apart for a long while, may I introduce Kit and Kitty.”
I was only focused on Kitty. To the point, I nervously asked, “Is there anyone here I need to meet?”
She replied quavering, “Ah no…no,” and waved her also equally bare fingers at me. “You know, footloose and fancy free me,” pirouetting around in a long white summery dress that twirled about her legs and tail. “No commitments, uncommitted, on my own, unattached, single,” she stopped herself, a little embarrassed. A uniform snicker went up from all those present. She finished off biting her lip then, drooping her head and shrugging, gave out a final hope filled “available.”
My jaw dropped, and I could swear I felt my lip bounce off the floor. All of the stress, the loneliness, the anxiousness, the self doubt, the regret, and misery melted away in that moment. Ten years of angst from the goodby at graduation to now, gone as though it had never past.
A little clap began to erupt and then a series of woo-hoos and cat calls. Then a bunch of loud claps and some whistles – the sounds flowed and ebbed away as everyone then began to politely turn away.
Next, I felt a few slaps on my back and a couple of shoulder grasps. It was Bud, Tony, and Mike, each with a lady friend in tow, none of whom I recognized. “Good going guy!“ “Way to go!” “Do well dude!” they in turn said to me.
They patted Kitty on her shoulder, as they passed, each giving her a wink. Then it was only her and me. It was the moment I dreamt about for years, and then I had no idea what to say.
We stared at each other for what seemed an eternity.
Finally she broke the silence, “I missed you.”
“I really missed you too,” then I felt my eyes start to water and my jaw froze, a whimper came up. I did everything I could to cover it up, as the moisture started to flow through my nose. Guys still aren’t supposed to do that, I couldn’t be a fool anymore. I was on the breaking edge of a laugh and a cry.
Then together we said, “Hey, I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
“I mean I didn’t want to get in the…” as we spoke over each other again.
Through my blurring vision, I saw the tears in her eyes too, and a blush on her smiling cheeks.
She giggled, then I giggled.
Together in unison again, “Oh….”, “I…” “Can we not..” There seemed nothing we could say the other wasn’t going too. We started to laugh and cry.
She walked up to me to stop me from speaking, putting her hands on my mouth while holding a finger to hers. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it as tight as she could, never breaking our gaze as we stared at each others through blurry tears.
She pointed up at the stars, at the twins, they were there in the sky the night we parted. I knew what she meant, we always stopped to take in the moment, they are, after all, only there for a moment. Then they are gone for good. Moments are the stuff of memories and, in the end, memories are all we ever are. There was going to be a lot of time to talk, a lot questions answered, but right now there was this now. It was a big important now for us, and it was this now we needed to enjoy, to let it wash over us, absorb it, and take it with us past all the tomorrows. We stood there together for the longest time, something more than the friends we were but not quite yet who we were going to become. It was the fourth, and soon some fireworks went up and started to light up the sky in front of the stars. Then a few more burst, and then more. We watched them sparkle off each others eyes. Whatever happened in all that time that just evaporated since graduation, I didn’t care, and knew I would never care, my heart was back. I think hers was too.