When you get the chance to see an ex again for the first time in twelve happy months, you don’t run away. You don’t panic either. You calmly go check yourself in any reflective surface and try to look nice. Also, you try to look disinterested. To look disinterested, I generally try to look like a bored senile tiger in a cheap zoo. (My apologies to PETA.)
That last bit about “the look” is the most important, and I tried to remember it that night I saw Ishiguro again in a fast-food joint. He was with a certain person and I was quick to notice that they had two food trays, which means they had ordered separately.
I badly needed to look unruffled despite the knot in my stomach. I was aware that I already looked different—I had outgrown most of the things that Ishiguro liked so much in me. Neither did it help that I was with a group of friends and that most of them knew Ishiguro. Every few seconds, they would burst into song to make fun of me (and themselves).
In the end, my intentions were hopeless. I ended up stealing glances at Ishiguro’s table and I had no doubt that, instead of a bored senile tiger, they thought I looked like a stupid jumpy monkey who wanted to be noticed.
But what I realised then about that night both surprised and reassured me. The realisation would not come until days after, but its stark clarity made me reaffirm my faith in the potency of metaphors. At that moment when I indulged myself in staring shamelessly at Ishiguro, I realised that my interest was not because I have neither forgiven nor forgotten the past. I was not in a cheap zoo. I was in an old museum.