The next time I see Mr. Faraway, it is at the large group activity, the one for which we had originally tried to coordinate a cup of coffee. That seems unlikely to happen now: The event’s speaker has canceled, so at the last minute, Mr. Faraway has been asked to give a speech instead. The subject is history, his favorite topic.
I arrive with The Child, who goes off to hang out with other children – his children – leaving me to myself. I chat with other ladies I know, and see him out of the corner of my eye, busy as always, rushing around. He sees me, though, and when he walks by and I am talking to some ladies he knows, he walks up and gives me a quick hug with one arm.
Great to see you, he says, then rushes off again.
A few minutes later, we are asked to take our seats, and he walks by me, and catches my eye, and smiles. I smile back and think, I guess this is how it goes, making conversation, everything seeming to be just as it always was. Maybe it is just as it always was.
The formal part of the event begins, and after some introductions, he begins his talk and slide show. He’s a good speaker, relaxed and engaging. And as he is talking, I realize, he is making references to me from the stage – private jokes, fit seamlessly into his speech. I glance around, but no one is looking at me or seems to have noticed.
The event breaks up, and a large group of us head over to a restaurant at a nearby shopping center, where nobody has made reservations, but the restaurant finds a group of tables together for us anyway. The Child sits at the children’s table, with his kids, while I sit down with a table of ladies and pick at a salad while listening to them discuss their diets; he takes the seat next to me and listens too. Afterward, the group dwindles in size, and groups of us take turns taking groups of children to various stores to check out video games or clothes, depending what they want to do at the moment.
After a while more, I realize the group has dwindled down to just me, and him, and our children, so I offer to buy everyone some cupcakes, and we all walk and chat together, and eat the frosting off cupcakes together, and it feels comfortable and ordinary.
It feels like it all fits together.