Part I, click here.
Part II, click here.
Even though she’d disappeared from my life, I thought about Suzanne frequently. I’d wanted to call her, but never could get myself to do so. There was a part of me that was hurt she’d disappeared, just like that. It was stupid, of course, to feel this way. The relationship was doomed to be nothing more than short-term. I wouldn’t have been surprised. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Yet I was stung by how the end just came, without warning.
I still rode the 7 train to work every morning. In time, I stopped looking for her. She’d moved on, and it was time for me to do the very same.
Several months later, right as the weather was starting to flash the first signs of summer’s arrival, I spotted a familiar face across a 7 train car that was sparsely crowded in spite of it being rush hour. Without hesitating, I walked across the car and positioned myself next to her, as she was standing by one of the doors. When she recognized me, she blushed, then threw the kind of bear hug that betrayed her not giving one shit as to whether or not someone had anything to say about her very public display of affection. I certainly wasn’t complaining. It was exactly the kind of reaction I was hoping for.
“Omigod, how are you, how have you been, how’s everything, my God, I’ve been busy, I’ve missed you!”
Suzanne said a lot – she landed a new job, she went on that trip to Jamaica she’d threatened to go, did you see Jerry Maguire? – but all I heard was I missed you.
What didn’t matter to me was, if she missed you so much, why didn’t she bother to pick up the phone and call you?
What mattered to me was, how much did she miss me?
We met for dinner and drinks a couple of nights later, and caught up.
We chatted about every topic we could imagine.
All the while, I was waiting for her to say something to me: I’m sorry things ended so abruptly. I have to apologize to you for what I did. I need to tell you what happened.
The conversation was lively, as it had always been. Months had passed between us, but it felt as if Suzanne and I hadn’t seen each other in mere days. Nothing had changed.
Yet everything was different. Her eyes were still alive and wild, and I could tell she really wanted to be around me, but there was something missing. I hadn’t expected any flame to be rekindled, and it wasn’t going to happen. The same overwhelming desire to chase this high that she exuded was gone. In its place was a relationship that was going to be strictly platonic.
And I was going to be perfectly fine with that.
The irony of the platonic relationship, in losing a romantic relationship, but finding some new relationship, was that Suzanne and I now spent even more time together. We attended parties together. We would meet for lunch often – the steps in front of the New York Public Library was a favorite spot to meet for a quick bite and people-watch – or just hang out at her place, sharing what red wine and recreational drugs she had readily available. Whenever she’d call and ask what I was doing, my answer was typically, “Whatever you’re doing.” What I found in Suzanne was a partner in crime, an equal of sorts whom I could bounce ideas off of.
Yet I couldn’t get past why she ended the relationship, the romantic one, so suddenly. I never got an explanation. I imagined all sorts of reasons why she disappeared and didn’t return my calls. Maybe there was another man. Maybe there was a coke-and-booze fueled weekend. Maybe she just got bored of me. I never probed for an explanation, knowing I wasn’t going to get one. But it still rankled me.
In spite of my unresolved feelings towards Suzanne, we remained tight. Then we drifted apart. The last time I saw her was on – surprise, surprise – the 7 train; she was getting on, I was getting off. She invited me to a party she was having. Just a few friends, at Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. I told her I wouldn’t miss it.
I didn’t go. And I didn’t get a “Why didn’t you come to my party?” phone call from her.
Several years later, I’m in a relationship, with the woman who would later become my wife. We’re living together. I’m happy, excited about the future.
On the commute to work one morning, I see her. Suzanne. She doesn’t see me. She’s wearing a smile on her face, clearly amused or pleased about something unbeknownst only to her. I think about walking across the car, just to say hello, but I don’t. It’s for the best, anyway. What’s the point in saying hello and writing another chapter to a story that wasn’t going to have a good ending to it, anyway.
She gets off at the next stop.
I never saw Suzanne again.