I saw the man in the mirror again the other day, even with the smaller mirror in the downstairs bathroom now. He was smiling.
It was odd, looking at it. I didn’t remember him smiling a lot. It seemed… out of place. No smarm, no attitude, no “I’ve-got-a-great-one-liner-coming-and-just-waiting-for-the-perfect-moment-to-deliver-it” expression that I’m sure he did a lot. I knew him well, at one point. He’d grown recently, in ways that excite and confuse me.
“What’s up?” I asked him. Then I recalled the smile on his face. Must have been the same one that was on mine the last little while.
“Life’s good, man,” he said. His hands were in his pockets, and he added a nod to the end, as if trying to fill the silence that would fill the next space in the conversation, the one we both knew was coming. A silence born of knowledge shared.
“It is, isn’t it?” I said, smirking. He matched it- THAT was a more familiar expression. The smugness, the superiority of it. Though it lacked the edge it may have usually contained, without anyone here to lord it over. Other than us, anyway, and neither of us needed that validation.
He chuckled, with that edge I knew well, but no bitterness, just amusement. “More tasks, more responsibilities, less sleep, less time, and less money… and we both feel great. What’s up with that?”
“Maybe we both lost our minds,” I suggested mischieviously.
He conceded the point with a slight motion of his head. “Can’t really argue with that,” he replied, with equal mirth. “If I lost my mind-“
“-Would you help me find it?” I finished for him, words from a song we both knew by heart, trivia filled brains pulling an obscure lyric that not a single other person I knew would be likely to get, if they’d seen. We shared a smile, again of conspiracy, knowledge shared.
He pulled back slightly. “If this is losing my mind, I don’t want it back,” he quipped, his voice quieter, less assured, as if confiding to someone.
I nodded slowly, agreeing silently. “To finding ourselves,” I said, raising a glass of water that had been sitting on the counter. He raised the same glass, on his side, and we both took a drink.
We let the silence sit for several moments, each of us waiting for the other to break off the conversation first, or continue it. “How ’bout them Giants,” he said, softly.
I smiled, seeing an immediate connection, though maybe no one else thought of it that way. “To the underdog winning every now and again,” I said, raising the glass again.
He did the same. “Hear, hear,” he said, and we both took another drink.
I stepped out of the room then, our conversation over, for now. The days and weeks ahead would contain new difficulties, exciting challenges, and more growth than either of us really knew, and neither of us self-styled underdogs could wait.
“So you’re still just ‘liaising’, right?” I heard him taunt.
I opened my mouth to respond, but thought better of it, knowing he was baiting me (into a conversation we’d already had). If I gave him a good head of steam, he wouldn’t stop.
Believe me, I knew.