“The reason we all go to bars – to remember and to forget.”
– Benjamin Alire Saenz
If you Missed Part One, you can read it
And now, Part Two.
The younger man reluctantly took a seat on his bar stool once more, but he fidgeted uneasily, wondering what the older man was about to say.
“Why do you care so much?” he then asked.
“Tell me,” the older man asked him then,”what do you love about her?”
“Well, she’s very funny, so sweet, warm and loving, wicked smart, strong, cute as hell, but that’s not the problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I could list things I love about her until the cows come home.”
“But that’s not enough.” The older man seemed to understand, suddenly, somehow.
“No. I know all this about her and yet I am still unsure.”
Just then a group of young women entered the bar and walked to a table in the corner, talking and laughing with one another, obviously letting loose after a long week. Both men, young and old, turned instinctively as the girls passed by the bar.
“What else are you looking for?” the older man said, returning his gaze to the lost young man sitting beside him.
“How did you do it?” the younger man asked finally, as if he had been wanting to ask this since they had started talking, but just now felt like he could.
“”I assume you mean how did I stay married for so long,” the older man said, reading the conversation well indeed, not to mention the young man.
“I know I said I had some things I wanted to say to you before you made any decisions, but I honestly can’t say the right thing that you might need to hear to convince you fully. I can see you are scared and I understand. I was scared too, but if you think there is something better or something more out there for you,” he said, gesturing to the group in the corner, “there is nothing I can say.”
The younger man couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This man clearly had years of knowledge on him, thus he should be able to reassure him that love was enough. Now here he was backtracking.
“Life is full of moments son. Moments and choices we must make. If you are so afraid of making these choices, you will never ever be happy.”
“So I’m just supposed to ignore my fears then?” Again the young man took out the ring and looked at it, waiting for the answer to jump out at him from the tiny box in his hand, or from the man sitting there beside him. Neither were forthcoming.
“Look at me. Time goes by and one day you are able to look back on things, to see what it all meant. I would give anything now to have my wife back with me, but what does that have to do with you, right?””
“And what does it all mean?”
“I honestly have no idea.”
“You know, you seemed a lot wiser when I sat down here.”
The old man smiled at this honest admission, or was it an admonition? “You really need to consider what you have and what you’re willing to lose. I almost let my fears ruin everything and I almost lost it all. If you can really say you will be happy without her, then you need to let her know that, but life flies by in a flash. Soon enough you find yourself an old man sitting alone, on a bar stool, on a Friday night. Is this fear you’re experiencing now, is it about her or is it all about you?”
“What happened to you? How did you almost ruin things?”
“The details aren’t the point here, don’t you see?”
So if I’m lucky I might end up like you some day?” The younger man said this, meaning to be funny, but the older man only looked at him with something like pity in his eyes.
“I could have missed out on years of memories, if I had run scared like I might have done and like you’re thinking of doing.”
“It just feels like either way, no matter what I do I will be giving things up, making a mistake.”
The group of girls in the corner seemed to be talking and laughing louder than ever now. For a moment their chatter drown out the two men, making further conversation temporarily impossible to continue.
When finally their talk seemed to have died down once more, a few of them having left for the washrooms, leaving the others to talk quietly, heads drawn close in a murmur, the younger man went to stand once more. This time the older man did not try to stop him.
“Wait,” the older man asked with concern. “What are you going to do?”
“I really don’t know.” This wasn’t much of an answer and they both knew it. The old man thought about saying more, but he felt that it was out of his hands. He must be satisfied with the idea that people come into our lives for a reason and he had come into this young man’s life, if only for a brief moment in time.
He never saw that young man again and so was never able to see what became of him. Yet, something about that night stuck with him, a strange feeling of recognition and a strange connection to that lost young soul. Perhaps he had more of an impact than he realized.
Things happen to us for a reason and we are the masters of our own destiny. These things are both true.
What could the older man have said differently to persuade the younger man that marriage was the right choice?
Life isn’t all roses and chocolates every single day. Life goes by too soon. Mistakes can’t always be reversed.
Did the young man live happily ever after? Was the older man’s conversation with the younger in that bar that night enough to make a difference?
Life is about decisions and choices. Nobody else can make them for us. Too many people let their fears dictate their decisions.
If only we could speak with an older version of ourselves, either to ask questions or to see how it all turns out.
Would you want that chance if you could?