“A crowded street
An empty train
A fool for love
You cry in vain”…Bryan Ferry ‘Fool For Love’

It had been 6 weeks since Jackie and I broke up. And, I admit, I wasn’t doing too well. Everywhere I went and everything I experienced, I found some way to connect it back to when we were still together, making me feel real sad.

Going to the mall was particularly painful since Jackie and I frequently went there either for dinner or to see films. I had avoided the mall for about a month now. However, I had to return a pair of jeans that got wrecked too quickly in the washing machine (a chore I never did when we were together) so with great trepidation, I ventured to the mall so I could run my errand.

As I walked through Washington Square, I passed their bookstore and at that moment, I remembered that Stephen King’s latest novel had become available in paperback (no, I don’t read F***ing Novels on Kindles), so I strayed from my set path to detour for the bookstore. As I approached the store and looked through their window, I saw the following message staring back at me.

I halted immediately. Suddenly, I really wasn’t that interested in entering the store anymore. I kept walking down the mall corridor.

I passed by a smoothie stand and realized that I was feeling quite dehydrated and low on energy. The thought of a smoothie definitely piqued my interest and my appetite, so I walked up to the counter with the intention of ordering one. So many different choices were available to me. Did I want Blueberry? Did I want Apple? So many choices. So many possibilities.

However, as I glanced at the server trying to decide what I wanted, her face melted away and instead, I saw:

“Can I help you sir?”

“I’ll have a ras..ras…ras..rrr…rrr…rrr…rrr…”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Uh, never mind.”

I walked away from the smoothie booth. Not only did I lose my desire for that refreshment, the simple task of returning my jeans felt like an impossible burden. Clearly, I wasn’t ready to go back to the mall by myself…it brought back too many memories of what I used to have and what I didn’t have any more.

The mall had a Mexican Restaurant that I had never eaten at and as I retreated from the smoothie store and headed towards my car, I noticed through the window that they had a small bar area. A real drink sounded really appealing to me so I could get my mind off my grief.

I entered the restaurant and sat down at the bar. I looked up at the bartender and saw the following:

“May I get you a drink?”

“Uh….IPA please.”

The bartender passed me my drink along with a basket of chips. I drained half my beer in one quick motion. Then, I pulled out my tablet and checked my email / surfed the web for a bit until I finished my beer. I got up from the bar stool and just as I turned to walk towards the restroom, my elbow bumped into a woman walking right by me holding a margarita. Her drink spilled half on her hand and half on the floor. I apologized profusely for my clumsiness and offered to buy her another drink. I motioned for the bartender and as I was about to ask her exactly what she wanted, I happened to casually look into her beautiful brown eyes where I saw the following:

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I blinked my eyes a couple times…I’m not sure how she interpreted my body language but I got in return a very beautiful smile.

Now, I still very much needed to use the restroom and I was about to take a step in that direction. I looked at her again and this is what I saw in her eyes:

I halted myself mid-step. I told my new friend that I was going have another beer and wondered if she wished to sit with me at the bar. Instead, she motioned me over to her table where she was nibbling on some nachos. I raised up my index finger, indicating that I’d be there in a moment and then I asked the bartender for another IPA. As I sat down, I casually touched her hand with mine as I passed by and noticed how warmly she smiled at me when I did that. I smiled back at her and when I made eye contact again, I saw the following:

All of a sudden, the fog lifted in my mind and everything felt normal again. My mind wasn’t on Jackie any more but on the possibilities inherent in this new relationship. The bartender brought a plate with my IPA and I casually helped myself to some of her remaining nachos.

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