I sat in one of the chairs by the graphic novel section. To my right, someone had seemingly abandoned a stack of books by a chair, but she came by to claim them just as an employee was about to sweep them up.
An employee who looked kind of familiar. Could it be...?
Flashback to five years ago—although at the time I thought it was seven or eight years ago—when I went on a cruise to Mexico and Central America with my family. I made Cruise Friends, as you do. One day was particularly memorable. Here is what twenty-two-year-old Sunil wrote in his journal that day:
I don't remember what we were talking about, but she must have said something girls would say about me a lot, because I said, "I get the eyes thing a lot." When she asked what about them, I responded with, "...That I have them." Which amused her greatly.
Then May wanted to dance, so the four of us went to the stage where the band was playing calypso-y music. But Laura and the boy left soon after, leaving May and me the only people on the stage. I attempted to dance, moving back and forth, waving my arms, trying to match her movements.
We talked some more. I turned out she had been born in San Francisco too, maybe even at the same hospital (Kaiser). She was currently in Berkeley.
I had never really danced with a female before, and I was pretty sure that was what was happening now. As we were ridiculously visible, I kept checking for signs of parents so I could move to not be dancing "with" her if need be. Also, remember in your visualization, we're both in swimwear. Thus, skin touched as we waved our arms about, though I wasn't sure what my touching protocol was. I didn't think I could actually put my hand on her bare shoulder or anything, those shoulders that were rolling back and forth, shoulders I tried to match with my own, leaning into her, and holy God, was I turned on. I had become warm and my breathing had changed. Suddenly, I understood the appeal of dancing.
We tried to recruit Laura and her boy to the floor, but they would have none of it. Laura wanted her sister to buy her a drink first, so we went to the deck bar. There was this guy there, I think it was Josh the Stoner, who greeted me. He said to the girls, whom he had apparently met, "I've seen this guy around a lot. He hasn't said two words, but he sure can dance."
"I can? Since when?"
He said it looked like I was having fun up there, which I couldn't deny. I thanked him.
Our little group hung out together for the rest of the day. May and I talked a lot and I ate off her fork and we looked at stars, and then we both went back to our respective rooms. At the time, May was thirty-two and managed the Barnes and Noble in Berkeley. When I moved out here a couple years later, I wondered if I would run into her.
And I was pretty sure I had, at the Barnes and Noble in Emeryville. It took me a few minutes to come up with her name.
I found her at Customer Service and asked her where Jilli's book was as an excuse to talk to her. Once she showed me, I asked her what her name was since she looked familiar.
It was May.
Had she gone on a cruise to Mexico and Central America? And she had a sister? Laura, right. Yeah, we had hung out and danced and looked at stars.
She had no memory of me at all.
I told her a few more details that I could remember, and she felt bad that she couldn't remember, maybe she shouldn't be admitting that. The one thing she did remember better than I did was when the cruise actually occurred; I was confusing the timeline with the Alaskan cruise we had gone on. If I see her again, I'll have to tell her she was right about that.
I introduced myself again, five years later, and told her about my job and such when she asked. She was pleasant and nice about the whole weird affair—and even sheepishly joked with me when I pointed out how not prominently displayed my friend's book was—but then she went back to work.
It doesn't always go like in the movies.