It was here, four years ago, that we stopped being friends.
We'd met a couple years prior to that night, but we'd just been friends. You were involved and I was trying quixotically to get involved with a doe-eyed girl who wasn't having it. We'd only seen each other a couple of times, keeping in touch over the phone or with e-mail.
That all changed, four years ago tonight. You were in town for a school contest, staying in a cheap hotel with what looked like a dozen of your classmates. We met up and headed down to my favorite bar for a few beers and the best burgers this town has to offer.
That night, at the end of the bar, we stopped being friends.
I can't say I wasn't hoping for just that. I'd been seeing a girl, a perfectly nice girl, but just a girl, you know? When I heard you were going to be in town, that was the end of that. She deserved better, but she wasn't going to get it from me. I just wanted to make sure there weren't any loose ends, just in case. I'm weird about that. I don't believe that anything that starts badly can work out in the long run. You know me: I'm all about the long run.
After that night we stopped being friends, we saw each other as often as four and a half hours distance would allow. That's quite a lot if you want it to be, and we both did. You bravely changed the course you'd mapped out for your life and moved here to be with me. And stayed.
Nothing's perfect, and not everything that's good lasts. We were really good for three years or so, but the last year was tough. I don't understand what happened, but it doesn't really matter whether I do or don't. You didn't want to be with me anymore, and that's all that needs to be said.
So tonight, I walked into that same bar. Four years to the day from when we stopped being friends. Three weeks to the day from when you left me. Funny-it's not the same bar. Not really. There's no smoke to hide how tawdry the place looks when the daylight sneaks in. The food is no longer worthy of the reputation. And the end of the bar, where the two of us stopped being friends, is nothing more than the end of the bar.