Tooting Bec, a stop on the Northern Line, is a rather suburban-looking patch of London south of the river. I had been there once before in 2008 in order to visit a person I had then just met on a lark in California. Until yesterday, I had not been back since.
As we three exited the station I can't say that I recalled exactly the high street with its not-too-great shops bearing slightly makeshift-looking signs. However, knowing I had been precisely there before, I tried to find familiarity in the red brick facades along the main drag. I couldn't. We were to make our way down the street 'with the Sainsbury's on it', passing the Common, and, at some point, making a right just beyond a sports center. I should have remembered at least some of that stretch of road as we traversed it. I remembered not one bit.
As instructed by House Guest, who'd been down to Tooting a few times before, we crossed the street at the Common in order to turn right at the sports center which would take us down the path leading to the neighborhood where his friend lived. House Guest had luggage in tow as he would leave the luncheon for the airport sometime around five o'clock. Hubs carried the bag with vino. I carried the chocolate cake.
As we neared our destination, I noticed a man quickly approaching from the opposite direction on the path parallel to ours some 20 feet away. I looked in his direction. It was the man with whom I'd had a prolonged liaison those few years before and who I had neither seen nor spoken to since 2009. I held my cake and stared. Perhaps sensing my hard gaze, he glanced my way before turning his eyes back to the path. I can't be sure that he recognized me, but I felt certainly that he must have. I turned momentarily to watch him walk toward town before turning back and, passing the building in which I'd spent a week of my life in March, 2008, continued on to our lunch date.