The Cheesecake Factory, our first date. I remember it like it was yesterday, what you wore, most of what we talked about it, your laugh, your smile, your innocence.
You asked if you could order a Bud Light with your salad. I smiled and thought it was the cutest thing I’d ever heard. I ordered the Louisiana Chicken Pasta with a Mich Ultra. I was never a fan of Bud Light.
We’ve only been back once in the last nineteen years since then. We were going through our first rough patch and I thought it would help to remember.
It didn’t go well.
But we survived, we healed.
At least I felt as if we did.
Now, I am sitting across from you for the third time at this restaurant. If my memory serves me well, this may be the exact table we sat at. If it’s not, it’s pretty close.
I brought us back here, back to the starting line, to see if we can get a new start. Remember why, how, when we fell in love.
I’m not ready to cross the finish line yet.
But here we are.
You order an Angry Orchard , without asking. You started drinking cider years ago when you went gluten free. I still order the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. I know, so many choices but I like what I like. But I order an IPA.
I guess we all change in our own ways.
We both kind of half smile at each other. It feels like we both are afraid to speak first.
How did we get here?
Slowly the words come but the conversation doesn’t flow like it did all those years ago. Every word seems like a struggle. Both of us are afraid to say the wrong thing so we don’t say much at all.
I try to say something funny. But you don’t laugh. Man, how I miss the sound of your laugh. Right now, it would light up my world just to see you smile. But you don’t.
I reach across the table and touch your hand. You start to pull away but you leave it there. But there’s no feeling there. No spark. No emotion.
Damn this sucks.
We eat in silence but there are so many words in my head.
How did we get here? Can this be fixed? What did I do? What did I not do? Is it worth fixing? Why can’t we talk like we used to? Why’s it so hard to tear down these walls we built? Why can’t we get back to where we were all those years ago, in this same restaurant, when we fell in love? Love, what is it, does it even exist? What happened to that light in your eyes? When did you know it was over? When did I quit trying? How did we lose it all? Why can’t we find something to connect us again?
I can’t turn my mind off. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I think too much instead of just being me, letting it flow.
Maybe it’s as simple as you don’t love me anymore.
Maybe that’s all there is too understand.
We finish our meals and both look at each other , another half smile.
And I know. In my heart I know.
Back here at the starting line, we’ve crossed the finish line.
Say Something by A Great Big World –
Over For You by Morgan Evans –
Leave Me Again by Kelsea Ballerini –
Hard Season by Matthew West-
Just Say I’m Sorry by Pink/Chris Stapleton-