Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I had been dating April for a few months when we went to go see the movie, In Time on Halloween.  We were already drifting, so taking her to this movie was kind of a last ditch effort to try to turn things around.  She had a guilty pleasure for Justin Timberlake, and even she knew it wasn’t going to be a mind blowing movie.  She didn’t appreciate that I was making predictions at how terrible (pun driven) the dialogue in the movie was going to be, but I don’t think that was the final nail in the coffin for us.  In the spirit of this bad film, let’s just say that we were out of time, we just stopped having a good time, and that the timing wasn’t right for us.

We met on a free dating service, and decided to meet for drinks on a Friday night.  Humor-wise, we clicked right from the start so we were both pretty comfortable with each other.  After  a few drinks, we were in good spirits, and we were trying to plan what to do next.  I suggested that we go to a karaoke bar in the same plaza that we were in, but she suggested that we go crash her co-worker’s first date at a local bowling alley just a couple of miles away.  While crashing the co-worker’s date sounded a lot more fun as an idea than the actually reality of the situation, it was still a very successful first date.

Between that first date and watching In Time, it was never volatile, but we never clicked enough to get serious.  Things ended over text, and while I wasn’t completely shocked by it ending, I was still open to trying to make it work, so it stung more than other failed online pairings.  I don’t remember if there was any talks about trying to be friends, but I probably didn’t take them very seriously if there were.  Not that I was furious, but I wasn’t in the mode of looking for new friends.  I got a new job a few weeks later, and that helped me get over things pretty quickly.

This new job was a shining beacon of hope for me.  I had been trying to leave my old job for a while, so it freeing to know I would be leaving a place that had been dragging me down for the past couple of years.  I would be making more money, I’d be around more people my age, and maybe most importantly, it would signify a fresh start in so many aspects of my life.  I immediately felt more confident and I started to look forward to the upcoming year, because my 2011 had come up so empty after so many promising opportunities.

Then a couple of days before our Christmas break, I was awoken from my phone ringing early in the morning.  It woke me up and for whatever reason, I decided to answer it.  To my surprise, it was from April’s phone.  I heard a lot of rustling on the other end, and no one responded when I tried to say “hello?”, so I realized that her phone had probably called me on accident, via a “butt dial” or a “bag dial”.  I hung up, and sent her a text telling her that she probably accidentally called me and that I hoped she was doing well.  She texted me back and through a series of a few texts back and forth, we decided to have lunch the next day to catch up.  I didn’t look at it as a potential opportunity to rekindle what we had, even though that’s what my friends were predicting would happen after hearing the news of this “accidental” (their quote marks, not mine) phone call, but mostly just out curiosity.

The same morning of the April phone call, I was told by my c0-workers that our lunch plan was changing.  Initially, we were supposed to go to Korean BBQ and instead we were now going to get Shabu Shabu.  Not only were we going to Shabu Shabu, but we were going to the Shabu Shabu bar that I would frequent often, when I was dating a waitress there earlier in the year.  I expressed some reservations about going there because of her, but my co-workers argued that I didn’t even know if she still worked there, and if she still did, I didn’t know if she would be working the Thursday lunch shift.  It was a solid argument, but I should have trusted my gut.

When we walked in, and I immediately saw her.  She waved, but I wasn’t sure if she was being sincere or just professional.  We were seated and greeted by a different waitress, so I started to calm down a bit, until she magically appeared in front of me, asking how I’ve been since the last time I had talked to her six months earlier.  I started to talk about how my car go totaled about a month after she broke things off, and she ran around the bar and gave me a hug.  It was unexpected, and somehow none of my co-workers were paying attention while any of this transpired.  We caught up, and I was relieved to know that things weren’t going to be awful between us.

I had lunch with April the next day, and we ended up hanging out a few more times after that.  We slowly drifted apart as friends as we both found serious relationships.  It was inevitable, with our history, that our friendship would be temporary, and it was one of the main reasons I wasn’t really pushing for it when things ended romantically.  It was still good to have that time, just like it was to see the waitress harbor no ill will towards me.  Both of them ended things over text, so it was nice to replace my last memory of them with something much more pleasant and actually in person. It was an emotional whirlwind for me in the span of 24 hours, and it just happened to occur right before Christmas.  It would obviously be an exaggeration to classify this as even a minor Christmas miracle, but it helped me look ahead to the new year and to clean the slate of unfinished business from a year that was about to literally become the past.