Thursday, May 18, 2017

Coffee for Two

Twelve years has passed since I ran into Alek for the first time. And I never imagined my day would turn out the way it did today.

My morning started normal. It was a rainy Sunday in the mountains of Alaska; you could barely see a ray of sun between the clouds. I did my morning Yoga inside today around 8:00 a.m. and I can’t wait for June to arrive. I’m not complaining of the 43 degrees outside, it’s way better then below 16, but some 60’s wouldn’t kill me. I could honestly use some outdoor yoga next to the lake. Without doing the “downward dog” and feeling like my butt is naked. But the rain, the rain felt good today. It almost felt like it was there just for me.
I sat next to the window overlooking the lake; my mind couldn’t help but drown in a cascade of memories.
It’s been a month since I returned to Alaska, after six years when I took a plane to San Francisco with no plans to return, and six months since I broke off my three year engagement with Damien.
I got up, grabbed my laptop and headed to Le Petit CafĂ©, a little coffee shop a few blocks from my parents’ house. I’ve been visiting it since I was a teenager and it has been one of my favorite spots ever since. So many memories created, so many stories written down on the tables of that place.
Before getting out of my car I put my iPod on, wanting to start the mood before I began to write. There were three people before my turn to order. “Renegades” by X Ambassadors was playing in my iPod when suddenly someone bumped into me.
-“Shit” I murmured.
I was looking down; all I saw were some old Converse. As I looked up, there he was… Alek. My heart rose as I stared at him. Messy hair, beanie, eye glasses, jeans, t-shirt and his signature black leather jacket. Time does well on you Alek Lewis.
-“Aralissee!” Alek exclaimed. “I’m sorry, I... I didn’t see you there.”
Alek was definitely in shock right now. I could see how his face turned red, his hazel eyes looked at me with surprise, the same way I was looking at him.
Alek is back in town, he’s back….I thought to myself. From wherever part of the world he was. You see, he’s a photographer and he travels, a lot; and he hasn’t been back in Alaska for a long time now.
-“I didn’t know you were in town Ara.” That makes two of us, I thought. “How are you? Gosh, how long has it been?” Alek was staring at me with those hazel eyes of his. Damn you Alek and those to-fall-all-over eyes!!!
He’s probably thinking I have lost some neurons on my way back to Alaska because I’m still catching my breath and words can’t seem to find their way out.
-“Yes, I’m back! It’s been what? Three? Almost four years?” I hesitate, but of course I know the answer. It’s been three years and 9 months since the last time I saw him. “I’m good, how are you? I’m as surprised as you to see you back in town. When did you arrive?” I replied trying to hide my emotions. I can feel the blood rushing to my ears, my cheeks and every place in my body. Oh Alek, the things you do to me, without even knowing it.
-“I’m fine”. He says, lowering his face as he gave me a half smile. “I got back three days ago. My dad’s birthday is next weekend and he asked for some campaigning pictures.”
You see, he is not just Alek Lewis. He is Aleksander Dean Lewis, youngest son of the town Mayor, destined to be a doctor or maybe a lawyer. Alek got into Med School, he’s brilliant. But his real passion was art, photography and traveling. And so he followed his heart.
-“I almost forgot his birthday; mother mentioned it before heading to their road-trip.” I’ve been gone too long, I used to attend Rowland’s birthday every year before I moved to San Francisco. I remember covering his birthday for the high school paper and then for the town’s paper ever since.
-“Another road-trip huh?” Alek laughed. “Remember that time…” Alek started asking.
-“Yes!” I rolled my eyes and cut into his question, already knowing what he was going to ask.
We both laughed remembering what it was to be a reckless teenager.
-“I was heading out to run some errands but, maybe I can stay and catch up a little; if you let me of course.” He said looking at me like a little kid with a smirk in his face.
I hesitated. Looked at the table in the corner, remembering our first date. I looked back at him and with a smile said “Sure but, coffee and croissants are on you.”
Alek smiled and stared into my eyes for a second before heading to the cashier to order. He arrived later with two coffees and croissants. As he was sitting down across the table he took his beanie off and fixed his messy hair.
-“Why do I have the feeling that you’re not just passing by Alaska, Ara, I can tell by the look in those deep blue eyes of yours that we are going to have a long conversation.” He was serious.
Let me be clear. Alek has been the only person to figure me out with just one look. Even when I had my best face on, he knew I was broken inside.
I took a sip of coffee and then a big breath.
-“I broke my engagement with Damien.” I solidly said.
-“Oh” Alek said. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
I changed the subject immediately, and asked Alek what he has been doing lately. Apparently he’s been working between New York and London. He has dated a few girls but, nothing serious.
Alek didn’t get the long conversation he was expecting. Instead we had a long conversation about work, travel, life and of course us.
For my surprise, there was still more of us than I could accept. Those feelings have been there all along, just hidden in denial. After all, he was the first man to break my heart. He apologized for so many things, that I had wished he had before but, I was happy to see this new version of him.
Twelve years had passed since I ran into Alek for the first time. Almost four years since we sat down, face to face; back in San Francisco. Sometimes it feels like an eternity ago when we used to date and sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. Does it make sense?
I’m 28, decent writer, blogger and editor; I have an apartment in San Francisco and have made some great friends and business partners. Some say my thoughts were too big for this small town, I never disagreed. I have never disliked living in a small town, but, when my mom decided to move here I was 11, and I felt kind of lost at that time. I was born in Florida, lived in Miami until we decided to move here. My parents wanted a better life for us, I never understood why Alaska until recently.
Today, I feel like a shitty writer, my blog hasn’t had an entry in months; a thousand words to say and I can’t seem to find the right way to do it. Maybe this small town girl living in a big town needed to return home for a while. I’m feeling a little lost, I’m hoping to find my way soon.
But what about Alek? I wasn’t convinced by his “coming back for dad’s birthday” excuse.
Alek was almost hitting his 30th birthday, he is a well-respected photographer, has traveled the world, very handsome; women must throw themselves at him. After he got out of Alaska, he barely ever comes back to visit. He’d rather have his parents visit him, wherever he is, than pass by. So, why is he really back? Is it an honest visit or is there something more?
Gosh, I can’t stop looking at him. He’s definitely been hitting the gym. Did I mention that time has treated him well?
Sitting here talking to him has given me a sort of comfort I haven’t had in a while now. Catching up, remembering our past, just being face to face has brought a thousand feelings back again. But maybe it’s just the timing, the loneliness, the heartbreak. Or maybe it’s just that I recently got off an engagement that left me heartbroken and feeling more lost than I have ever felt.
We finished up our conversation and started to say our goodbyes, exchanged phone numbers, when right out of nowhere Alek takes my hand.
-“It was really nice bumping into you to Ara, hope we can do it again soon.” He said, with that look in his eyes I’ve seen so many times before. He stood up and got close to give me a kiss on the cheek and as he got really close, he whispered in my ear “Ara, you look breathtaking as always. I’ll see you soon.”
He is the one that took my breath away. I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks and ears, as I blushed.
-“See you soon Alek.” I said simply while I was still staring into his eyes.
And there I was, looking at the rain pouring down the window, 12 years later sitting on the same table saying goodbye to my first love, Aleksander Lewis. The irony was that this goodbye, felt more like a hello.

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