During a lull at work I found myself spooning maraschino cherries into a fruit tin, and I thought about how much I hate maraschino cherries and when the last time I ate one was. And my brain scaled back to a San Diego boat tour in the middle of February. And there I was, sitting at a table, squinting at the cherry that bobbed up and down while I swirled my Shirley Temple. "I love Shirley Temples." Andy announced. I'd never had one and I wasn't feeling adventurous enough to find out what else the "bar" tender could mix up, so I'd followed Andy to the bar and ordered the same thing.
I wasn't really in a foul mood, but I wasn't in a great one either. My friends were being dumb, either isolating themselves on the roof of the boat in the freezing wind without a jacket, sullenly waiting for some boy to offer theirs, or annoyed at not being the center of attention and stalking off to tell the same old overused stories to some unsuspecting group of eager listeners. Andy was the only normal one, but as per usual he was encircled by a group of peppy girls, none of whom I was familiar with, and unfortunately I was not in the mood for making friends. But I didn't want to call any attention to myself or my strange mood, so I kept up with the group. But each time I saw a cup nearing empty I volunteered to get a refill, mostly for the excuse to step away frequently and not really have to keep up with, or contribute to the conversation, but that was not the sole reason.
Upon getting my first drink I'd noticed Kam sitting there at the far end by the window, drink in hand, clad in black, splayed casually over the couch. The sudden urge I had to go over there startled me. So I swallowed it and followed Andy back up the stairs. Getting everyone's drinks was a convenient way to keep looking at him, maybe in hopes to run into him. But he remained there, alone on the couch, sometimes slouched over his knees staring at the cup in his hands, or upright staring out into the black night.
And I did that all night, toting Shirley Temples up and down the stairs and watching him out of the corner of my eye. Going back and forth in my mind about how I felt about it all. I was jealous of him as he sat by himself so comfortably, not feeling awkward or like the loner. His friends were just feet away, but he was choosing to sit on his own, and here I was practically walking a marathon just so I didn't have to be with other people while simultaneously avoiding being by myself. I was mad at him for being so comfortable, I was mad at him for not looking up and realizing I was there. I was jealous of the empty space next to him, the emptiness that he seemed to treasure. I admired him for being so comfortable on his own, for not having a care in the world, for being alone with his thoughts in the middle of a crowd. I watched him in awe, in anger, in jealousy, in sadness, in loneliness, in solidarity.
I've gone through that night in my head many times since then. I can't help but wonder what might have happened if I'd had the courage to approach him. Even just to say hello. Sometimes I close my eyes, squeeze them shut, and wish that I had. But I didn't. And that's ok because eventually he became a part of my life, and big part of it. But I still can't help but wonder how it would have felt to sit there with him, in silence, deep in thought. I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to sit alone, together.
Funny how all this thinking was brought on by a cherry. Everything makes me think of Kam.