mending bridges in rainstorms
i moved closer to the windowed doorway in order to have a better view. i was waiting for the notoriously tardy juniper to meet me at the arclight theatres in hollywood, and he was, naturally, running late. my toes were tapping nervously as i eyed the rain streaming down in endless sheets. we'd thought a sunday afternoon at the movies might be just the thing to get our minds off the rain; half of los angeles had the same idea, apparently, because the lobby was bustling with umbrella shaking crowds. i sighed, and picked up bits and pieces of everyone's conversation. the best snippet, by far, was a teenaged girl's outburst of "ryan! you're advocating genocide!" whereas the most often heard line was "oh, no, it's still raining!" i had tried to distract myself by browsing the gift shop, but i soon realized that i really am not a happy shopper in a crowded store, so i moved to my mooring post by the entrance.
people came and went--dads with their daughters, hipster couples, families on an outing--and still no juniper. i felt as awkward and self-conscious as i had the night before, when i put in my time holding up the wall at a bar in long beach when i was waiting for pisces
and her husband to meet me so we could catch our friend's salsa band and hit the dancefloor. i suppose the worst part about waiting, for me, is in being concerned with the fact that, well, i look like i'm waiting. i've never been stood up for a date, thank god, but looking like i'm being stood up is probably on par psychologically. i tried to make a face with matching posture that clearly demonstrated "i'm waiting for a friend who is horribly late." i had to laugh a little at myself; i realized, in waiting, that juniper had made me wait for ages on hot day last summer when we'd met to see the door in the floor
. he'd get there, sooner or later.
i kept up my gaze out the door, and then i did that "what? no!" doubletake of recognition. it wasn't juniper, no, but... it was someone from my past! and he was waving, and headed my way, and...didn't he remember that we'd parted on bad terms?
"hey you!" he exclaimed, and i matched his greeting in words and energy. we did the routine "how-are-you" bit, and compared notes on mutual aquaintances. we shared our work situations, our accomplishments, his news of a long-term relationship with a fellow on the east coast. we laughed, and when i paused to really drink in the moment and look in his eyes, i felt the bridge that was long broken between us being mended. it was a tremendous feeling.
we'd met in the spring of 2000, when i'd begun work at an entertainment advertising agency. at first we circled each other, uncertain if we'd mesh socially or not. it was one of those workplaces that seemed to have an unwritten rule that you were who you lunched with. the first few weeks i was me, myself and i with my little mermaid lunch box. then one day i was entreated to join the crew, and a fast friendship began. he and i were a good match--the queens tend to love me--and we soon became a notorious twosome, pulling pranks, going to concerts, hanging out after hours, being mischievous, and, of course, having lunch after lunch.
it didn't take too long for the drama to brew. people's personalities were clashing among the ranks, and factions were forming. new employees weren't jiving with old ones. moods were swinging and choices were in the making. on top of that, the company was in financial dire straights, and the workload was piling up. what was once fun was soon become drudgery. plesant workdays gave way to my migraines and dreams of escape. we fought like tigers locked in the same cage; we were sparring for blood, fired up and frustrated. it wasn't pretty.
as things neared their end for me the workplace had taken on an unfriendly air. since you were still who you lunched with, and i was back to lunching alone, i was becoming increasingly unhappy. and i'd hit the ceiling; i wasn't about to work eighteen hour days for a miserly boss, and there was nowhere to go but...out. the front door. and so i left, striking out on my own in the summer sunlight, leaving some broken bridges in my wake.
so there i was, a rainstorming sunday afternoon almost four years later, mending a long-broken bridge. the fallout had always nagged at me, and in reflective moments i'd often found myself tripping on the debris, asking "what went wrong?" and being able to only shake my head with "what a shame we're no longer friends" as my refrain. with people's shoes squeaking on the arclight's lobby floor as our backdrop, and the continuing exclamations of "hey, oh--it's still raining!" swimming about, we caught each other up on our lives. and then, in a moment of pause, i said, "you know, i don't know what happened between us years ago, but i just want to say that i'm sorry." "me too," he said. "i'm sorry too." the sound of resolution sounds eerily like falling rain, with its same properties of cleansing and inspiring growth.
"happy new year, baby," he said, and we hugged.
"happy new year," i returned, and we waved goodbye.
five minutes later juniper showed up, having floated in on some los angeles street that had become a river. we fell in to step as we are most likely to do, and we headed to get some tickets to see spanglish
it was still raining when the movie let out, and we went outside to brave the elements. knowing that i'd mended that bridge, though, made the ride home much easier.