I’d made it to the airport early, checked in my luggage and found a relatively quiet spot in a café to have a coffee and to catch up on work emails.
I was deep in concentration when I realised that there was someone in front of me. I glanced up and saw a woman standing there. She was middle-aged with blonde wisps of hair forming a kind of halo around her face.
‘I can’t believe it – it’s really you! You know, you’ve hardly changed a bit.’
I looked at her face, trying to place her. She was smiling at me, a crooked grin that made her seem younger than I had first thought. I shook my head, not sure of who she was and feeling awkward as the silence stretched between us.
‘Have I changed so much, Lou?’
I shifted in my chair. No one had called me Lou for years. I leaned closer and she tilted her head to the left, and then I knew. ‘Jenny? I haven’t seen you in, well, decades!’
Jenny’s grin broadened and she pulled a chair out and sat down. ‘Not since we finished high school. You took off to backpack around Europe and I was married within 6 months.’
The minutes flew by as we exchanged brief histories covering the last 20 years or so. Jenny took out her phone, swiping at the screen to bring up photos of her four children, and I could see glimpses of a younger Jenny in their crooked smiles and blue eyes.
‘And look at you, so buttoned up and serious. Last time I saw you, you were still in your Goth phase, all mascara and dyed black hair. You were so determined to head overseas and never come back.’
I smiled, thinking back to the girl that I’d been. ‘I was going to live life my way, regardless of what my parents told me.’
Jenny nodded. ’My kids never listen to the advice I try to give them, and when I hear myself say it, it’s like listening to my parents all those years ago. “Your feelings won’t always be this intense. You’ll make mistakes but that’s all part of growing up. You will do things that will amaze and appall yourself and others. It’s called life.”’
I had a flashback to the times we’d spent together, walking home from school or catching up on the weekend. We’d compare notes on what our parents had told us, trying to outdo each other with the inanity of their remarks, how their advice had no relevance to our reality. How they didn’t get us. As if they’d never been young.
‘Would their advice have changed anything, do you think?’ Jenny tilted her head in that gesture I remembered from all those years ago.
I grinned back at her. ‘It’s unlikely. But I’m glad they tried to tell us, even if we didn’t listen at the time.’
I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find out more about the challenge, join in and read other posts here.
Photo: plane wing among the clouds