Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Konditor & Cook, Waterloo

Monday, April 6th 2009

The Bitter: Bumping into the one who broke your heart

The Sweet: Great coffee and sinfully good cakes

3. Spring Awakening and A Sweet Defeat

You surprised me today. You crept up on me in MY favourite lunchtime hangout, in MY neighbourhood, unannounced, and uttered some innately smooth line as I stood deciding on which bag of fatty, unglamorous crisps I should consume for lunch. Oh, the horror. Why is it always when you feel tired, ugly and hausfrau-like whenever a former love of your life is within spitting distance? You might have had time to size me up, to decide whether I still looked good enough to warrant talking to. I guess you judged I did, but I still felt exposed.

“So many choices…it’s a hard decision,” you said. A line that sounded so flippant, I thought maybe you were a staff member making small talk.

Turning around and finding you there beaming at me was the last thing I had expected. Your smile genuinely disconcerted me. The last time we had met, pain was etched into your face. It was a battle to keep from holding you then. Today the battle was with how fat and happy you looked. You, the sinewy dancer. The health-conscious paragon of aesthetic virtue and sleek lines. The walking Alessi product.

You seemed to have grown with your happiness, in many ways. You certainly looked more your age. Your hair, a little greyer. Your clothes a little more filled; your belt a notch or two larger. Your eyes a little crinklier at the edges. But you were you. Happy and smiling and adorable, your eyes swatches of sea glass. You, my boy, still got it.

I could only stand there, grinning like a simpleton, my stomach in my heart, crammed into my throat. All I could do was turn on myself; cursing my appearance. I wished I’d worn the newer shoes, the ones that pinch but make my feet look dainty.

I wished I’d put on a slick of lipstick. I wondered whether my skin was looking as young and unblemished as you might have remembered. And I wanted my clothes to be newer, more pressed, more tailored. I also wished I could have uttered something more intelligent than the standard “How are you? How have you been?” Instead, I stared at you. You stared at me, and smiled. It was awkward, and also thrilling. I felt my stomach/heart combo do a somersault.

There was a large earthquake in central Italy on that day. And I felt its rumble there, in that coffee shop, as the tremor of seeing you shook me to my core. Was it her, your new woman, who had fed your body and your soul? If so, why were you smiling at me that way? What did you gain from drinking me in and asking me if I had five minutes to spare?

I didn’t. But I wanted to.

I can't remember much about what I ate that day. But now I find myself in this quaint little coffee shop more often than is strictly necessary; with adrenaline, not caffeine, coursing through my veins. I’m finding that the cakes are much, much sweeter with a sprinkling of danger and a pinch of longing.

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