The twenty-year-old I was talking to saw more of himself in me than he even realized when I described the "old" me; he agreed with words and head-nods, but I could see that he knew exactly what I was going on & on about in a way that mere words wouldn’t have done justice.
The "old" me was in full-effect, detailing my job at a comic-book store 18-years prior, watching 30-year-old former comic-nerds circling the store in a state of age-resultant anxiety, looking for handy compilations of the books they enjoyed as a youth...which was entirely what I had just finished doing while waiting for my mechanic to install a new battery in my car. As I was leaving the comic-book store, this young clerk offered these foreboding words through a smirking, malice-less mouth:
"You’ll be back."
Strange circumstance handed me over to some former-acquaintances later on in the week, the fallout being a return-visit to the bar I had worked at and left for dead; the name had changed, as had most of the staff, but the odd, ominous, cold-sweat of impending-doom remained as though I had been there in the preceding two years, or had just finished up another soul-crushing night of enabling alcoholics...
I haven’t talked to my former compadre/boss since I "retired" those many moons ago, but while sitting on the slightly-different-but-almost-exactly-the-same patio, drinking my jack-and-coke-but-with-a-fucking-LIME? I remembered the words he left me with through a shaking, disbelieving head the first time I tried to quit:
"You’ll be back."
I’d always held some small, tiny, itsy-bitsy, microscopic tinge of guilt for not being more concerned with keeping up friendships, with "staying in touch"; I’d always brace myself for the worst when I saw myself on a collision-course with a girlfriend-of-a-buddy in a supermarket, or hear a distinctly-familiar voice from the waitress in a restaurant I’d never before eaten at, because looking back, by and large, makes me queasy. There are many good times to reminisce about, many already-deranged stories that have been hilariously/hideously embellished over time, but the nostalgia only ever lasts as long as it takes me to consume a bottle of wine. Then, once the fits of laughter and sputtering giggles have subsided, it’s over.
The future is sitting there, staring me dead in the face, and, at this point, I haven’t even a shred of guilt left; I’m pretty sure a steady diet of drinking on Saturdays in the name of "catching up" would enhance my life in the same way that lopping-off my leg at the knee would improve my equilibrium.