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The Same Bench
bibliomaniac
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Today I sat on the bench seat in a restaurant I hadn't sat on since the fall of 2005.  It took all I had to stay out of the fall of 2005 and focus on the spring of 2010.  As I waited for my breakfast partner to arrive, how easy it would have been to slip into the despair and sadness I'd felt on that day, the day my former spouse had been sworn in as a US citizen.  There I had been on that bench, sitting with him, my son, my mother.  It was an awful, grumpy day, one that should have been wonderful but was not because my then husband and I were separated.  He'd asked me to come to the ceremony, and I did.  He asked me to be there for him, but I was so not there.  My body was there, but I didn't even want my body to be there.  I was trying to leave and he was trying to pull me back in.  I couldn't be gone and I couldn't be there, so instead I was a bitch.

Today, the day cloudy and wet, the restaurant calm and almost empty, I stared out the window, looking at the cars and people passing by ourside the window.  I was not the same person who sat there five years earlier.  I was not "not" there.  I was so here, every part of me wanting to be where I was, even if it wasn't somewhere not so fantastic.  This morning, I had no desire to push myself out of the life I had.  No, I was content to take notes about things I needed to do, wait for my friend, sip my water, and remember that I had moved on, so literally.  That woman I had been in  2005 was gone.

But also today as I sat at that table talking to my friend, I had a recollection, an olfactory memory.  A man walked past our table, and I breathed in cologne.  I remembered the way that my ex husband's face smelled after he shaved.  He only shaved once a week, and after he did so,  his face was so soft and he smelled of Colgate shaving cream and a slight amber ting of after shave.  I loved the way his face smelled and felt, and it was nice to have that memory come to me, softly.  It came happily, not with sadness or remorse or upset.  It was something good, in the place where something bad had happened between him and me.

Aftershave.  After all this time.

Jessica