I don’t usually drink alone in bars, but the idea seemed great. Ever since she left, the urge was steadily building. Nothing else I did felt like a proper ending. She lingered. So one night I went out, alone, to a bar, aiming at becoming the idea. I sat and ordered my drink. The experience was nothing like the idea. Quietly wasting away, the first twenty minutes or so were horrendous.
Then he sat down- at least I think he did. I don’t remember, maybe he was already there. I do remember the first thing he said: “How’s your beer?” My beer was excellent- I had become an expert on my beer. Sit alone for twenty minutes (or more?) sipping your beer, and you will be quite primed to describe said beer. So I did. And he listened. It was not a very interesting description.That’s how we got to talking. We talked about where we were, the bar itself, and we talked about our beers. We joked about the news, and the weather, then exchanged tiny best-ofs we’d gathered from our lives. Best jokes heard, best one-liners, best pranks. Best tricks, best stories. We shared and drank some more, and we never asked the other his name. We didn’t talk about what we did, or who we were. We talked about what we thought. There is a difference. The night was long, and in a way it was tiring. It was also a release. Hours later, as the sun started to rise, I thought it prudent to finally get my friend’s name. Which is when he suddenly plopped down his final glass, and as if reading my mind, said “No need for names.” We’d gotten into sync with one another. Hours of intense conversation will do that. Then he stretched, got up, and put on his hat. He said something to me then, and I don’t think I’ll forget it. He said, “You know something? I’m not what a lot of people would consider successful, but I love Time. Time and death. I love time, because it means even someone like me is a traveler.” He paused to throw on his scarf.
Then he continued, “You know, I had a physics teacher once, and he explained how space and time are cut from the same cloth- fact, they are the same cloth. You and me, we sat here, and we drank, and we talked, and the whole time we traveled. Time keeps you moving, even when it seems like you aren’t.” He put on his jacket.
I asked him, “And death?”
He stopped, his hands in his sleeves, and said “Death is always the end of the line. So it ‘s the journey that matters. Without death, we’d think the destination was the point.” That was the last thing he said to me.
I said “goodbye” to him, and as was my habit, “good luck.” too. Then I went home and slept, and maybe dreamed, perhaps about how far I’d come from who I’d been.