I saw him walking towards me, a smile on his face. He put his bag down as I rose and gave me a hug.
“Your belly is showing again,” I teased half laughingly.
“Yeah, I haven’t been to the gym in ages. You’re looking good, though.”
I told him of what happened at camp, the people I met, the sailing trip. He perked up when I mentioned the ‘interesting’ encounter during lunch that one time and what went on after I came back.
“So how did the date go?”
“Hey, we KL-ites don’t date, we hang out, remember?” He ignored my attempt at making light of the subject and persisted with his questions. Typical hack. But then, I was in a chatty mood so I told him my story.
– – –
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out with that guy, N. You’re a great person and he’s an ass.”
“I shouldn’t have met him in the first place. I knew his status and yet I still went out with him. And I felt bad afterwards because I actually enjoyed myself.”
“Hey, don’t beat yourself up about that. You knew the stakes going in.”
“But still, I could’ve said no.”
“Well, he came clean and told you about his situation. And you like him.”
“I can’t say that I don’t. He’s really interesting and I enjoy our conversations, especially about sailing. And you know I can’t really talk to many people about that.”
“I know. And you’re not exactly the friendly type who chats up people easily. But couldn’t you just ignore that one fact?” I knew he was just curious and not making a joke.
“You know I can’t. Not just because of my family history, but the principle of it.”
“I guessed as much. You wouldn’t be who you are if you had said otherwise,” he said softly, taking a drag of his post-dinner cigarette.
I let out a sigh, tired of thinking too much about things I do not have control over.
“I make it really hard on myself, don’t I? Life is short and I’m saying no to a guy I really want to know better because of a technicality, and let’s not forget career choices.”
“I do wish you’re not as rigid, and live vicariously. But you are who you are, N.”
“Nice word. I don’t think it suits me, though.”
“Hah. Says the woman who quit her job to travel the world.” Laughter all around.