We meet for lunch from time to time to “catch up” or so you call it. I call it that too until I encounter someone who thinks our contact is inappropriate, in which case I make more holy excuses to escape judgment. You always let me choose the venue, even though I still “owe” you a meal at your favorite restaurant. You bring it up every time but I know you’ll never make me pay my debt on account of the provocative things that occurred to make me lose that bet. You brought up the “bet” in front of my husband once. I laughed it off as something playful followed directly by a piercing glare in your direction. It bugs me that we can still communicate in that way, that you can almost read my thoughts. I always choose a restaurant close to where you work; partially because you didn’t have a car for so long, and partially because I like to feel like I’m pursuing the situation and not other way around. The last few times we ate at the same sandwich shop. You’re always late but manage to jump into line as if I were waiting for you. You talk about me to the ladies preparing the sandwiches and order mine for me. (Am I that predictable that after 6 years my sandwich order is still the same?) We get to the cash register and I retrieve my wallet only to have you slide your card across the counter. I decline repeatedly but the cashier lets you pay. She thinks you are being chivalrous but she wouldn’t if she knew our story. You say you’ll let me pay next time but I know you won’t.
We sit down and flow into conversation like old friends which indeed we are. I used to hate hearing about all the girls you are dating but now it doesn’t bother me. You tell me all about them and ask my opinion because you know I always give it freely. We talk about my husband and how we all need to get together. It’s strange how well the two of you get along. You ask about mom and dad and my brother and sisters. I sometimes forget you were like family for a long time. You ask about church. A topic that I know you bring up for my sake. I tell you about Mosaic and all the crazy things happening. I can tell that you stopped listening and it hurts my feelings but I hope that you tune back in to hear a little. In the middle of my story you ask about new years, a reasonable topic since it was last week. I start telling you about the wonderful time I had in Chicago and the amazing girls I spent it with. You ask if it was as amazing as our new years, throwing in buzz words like “hot tub” that will surely make me blush. You succeed in making me blush but I push through my sentence defiantly avoiding your bait. I talk about how encouraged I was without using any “Christian words” (like encouraged). You smile and tell me how much you love to see me happy. The part of me that wants to be bitter towards you for everything wants to make a snide comment but the bigger part of me that wants you to know what I know and feel what I feel wins out. I’m reminded of why I have lunch with you. It’s not because I feel guilty or because I have an agenda, it’s because I see part of who I used to be in you and I want to take the time to love that, the way someone took the time to love me. So I’ll continue to sit through awkward innuendos praying that one day you’ll see past me into the bigger picture, that you'll learn to love and be loved.