Visiting your alma mater on business. Stopping first at the bar on campus.
The bar tender, a student, is the same who served you two years earlier. His hairline’s receded and his beard is fuller. He doesn’t seem to recognize you.
He comes forward, sighing. Leans his elbows on the bar and puts both hands behind his neck and says, “No Jameson.” Sighs again. “Don’t do Jameson, don’t do shots, don’t do doubles and nothing served neat. Everybody shows ID.”
Later, at a coffeeshop on campus, you sit with a friend more than twice your age who takes only one bite of her sandwich, shy to be the only one eating, and though she addresses having more years behind her than ahead of her she speaks almost exclusively of the future, and of her family, and she tells you over her lemonade, over her cooling sandwich, about a friend of hers who can’t sleep; about professional concerns, and of problems unique to women; matters of housing and matters of country and, with eyes averted, the matter of a pistol in her bedroom that she’s not supposed to have.
In a hallway you cross paths with an old friend, a flame, who cringes when she sees you. Her fingers curl and her head tilts and, too slow in deciding whether to acknowledge you, she gives this pained smile that flinches at its corners and she looks at your neck if at anything and then walks a little faster.
You recount this to a colleague an hour later. Then to your bar tender in the evening. Then a friend. Go ahead and tell the sink while you’re at it.
The colleague, 77, a whitebearded minister with a ponytail to envy. “If it’s any consolation,” he says, “I think you’re swell.”