Since my last go at being single, Facebook has entered the picture, making it easy for former loves to find me and interested parties to check out my relationship status.
But sometimes it still happens the way it always has, where you randomly run into someone you knew in a past life and reconnect face to face.
Next thing you know, they're e-mailing you, suggesting a shared meal to "catch up" and you're wondering how the person they are now compares to the one you once knew.
Since there's only one way to find out, I accepted the invitation, choosing lunch at Olio both for its fresh menu and low-key vibe. I knew we'd be able to linger as long as we might want without so much as a raised eyebrow from the accommodating staff.
He was waiting for me when I arrived, unsure of how and where to order, so we approached the counter together. Owner Jason greeted my friend without even noticing me, so I teased him; he gave me some lame excuse about trying not to favor female customers over male. Whatever.
I ordered the Beef & Bleu salad (Angus beef, bleu cheese, dried fruit, roasted zucchini, and walnuts over greens with Parmesan peppercorn dressing) and my friend took my lead and also got a salad, the smoked salmon Nicoise. Olio does superb salads.
We sat down to get started talking while our food was being prepared. But where to start after years of not seeing each other? I wasn't sure whether to ask the things I was dying to know or begin innocuously.
He solved the problem by taking the lead, telling me about his work (he's an author who does a lot of speaking for corporate groups) and asking about mine.
We were knee-deep in a discussion of self-imposed deadlines when our food was delivered. We got busy eating but never stopped talking.
One conversation led to another as we kept taking tangents about the past and present. I was honestly surprised at how much detail he remembered about me and the time we had spent together, given that it wasn't recent or long-lived. Wow, he was definitely taking way better mental notes back then than I was. Impressive.
He asked if I was still a Prince fan (given last night's show at Madison Square Garden) and I told him that although I very much am, I know I'll never get better Prince memories than the two times I saw him at the Landmark. Still, it was an obscure fact to remember about me.
As he continued to ask questions of me to elicit information, he kept saying things like, "You? No way!" and "Really?" Finally he came right out and said, "Wow, a lot about you has changed. What brought all that on?"
Looking back, I had to say that it was that serious bout of pneumonia I had two years ago. After being in Intensive Care for nearly a week, something in me shifted and habits of a lifetime went away. Everything got easier.
I don't even realize anymore how different I must seem to people who are still carrying around old perceptions of me. And that would definitely include people who haven't seen me in the last two years, like my friend.
On the plus side, he said the person I've relaxed into being is so much cooler than the me he knew way back when. "And I thought that person was pretty great," he qualified.
He seemed more than okay with expecting one Karen and getting quite another. Sorry, but this is the only one available anymore.
Amazing the stuff you can discover about a person when you reconnect face to face.