Sunday, September 26, 2010

Close Encounter

I have a new mission:  to find the best turkey burger in Portland.  I can't really say what prompted this.  I guess it is partly due to wanting-and needing-to eat healthier and partly because I like to try new things.

So far, I have had two.  I knew not to expect much from the first one.  After all, food in a seedy bar is rarely 5-star quality.  It was a disappointing first experience as it was really salty.  The second one was from Burgerville, a local fast food chain that prides itself on using local vendors as much as possible.  Their food is pretty good, but the turkey burger was pretty bland.  So the last time I was at the grocery store, I decided to get some ground turkey and make my own someday.

Last Sunday, I decided a turkey burger made on the grill (George Foreman, but close enough), French fries and corn would be a great end of summer dinner.  I needed a few burger fixings and set off for the store.  I was thinking I should go to WinCo as it is less expensive than Fred Meyer, but in the end Freddies won out.  They typically have better produce but more importantly than that, they have a Starbucks.

I had finished my shopping-gathering the items, that is.  I still needed to pay.  I was in line at Starbucks waiting for my frappucino when a couple came in the front doors of the store.  I recognized them immediately:  it was James' old roommate-and one time best friend-and his wife.  I almost called out to them.  I haven't seen them since the funeral.  Like me, they live not far from Freddies so it's kind of weird that it took over 2 1/2 years for me to run into them.  It was on the tip of my tongue to call out their names and instead, I turned my head.  I hoped they wouldn't see me.  And they didn't.

It was a weird experience.  Here were two people that had once been our best "couple" friends and I didn't want them to know I was only a few feet away from them.  There had been a falling out several years ago when they went through a rough patch.  James did not agree with how he treated her during that time.  And then when I asked an innocent question about a basketball rule and he bit my head off in response and practically made me cry, James cut off all ties.  This was during the time we were in Arizona so it wasn't hard to end that relationship.  But then we moved back and by that time, they had reconciled.  James wanted to repair his friendship with her, but she chose her husband.  I remember sitting at opposite ends of the couch, cross-legged facing each other-our serious discussion position-discussing whether or not to try to mend fences with him.  We decided to give it a go; he wasn't willing to meet us halfway.  So we let it go.

I knew I had to tell them when James died-that it was the right thing to do.  They were one of the last to know-I had a hard time getting her to call me back and that wasn't something I wanted to leave on an answering machine.  I don't really remember them at the funeral, but they came up to me at the reception with a picture of James that used to be on their fridge and said it should have been included in the slide show.  I know more was said but that is all I remember.  It's amazing I even remember that much, truth be told.

I got my coffee and went to pay for my groceries.  I tentatively looked down each aisle before crossing it trying to avoid them.  I didn't want an awkward conversation about how I'm doing and what they have been up to for the last 2 + years.  I didn't want to agree to a get together that would never happen or make a false promise that I would call if I needed them.  That time has past.  What I wanted was to go home and tell James who I ran into at the store-which of course I couldn't do.  It put me in a weird frame of mind for the rest of the day.  A week later, I'm still not really sure how I feel about it but I do know I don't care to rekindle that relationship.  That ship has sailed.  If I do run into them again, I will be civil but I won't seek them out.  I think James knows this.  I think he would understand and he would be disappointed that they-especially she-was not there for me when I needed his friends the most.

James would not have been disappointed in the turkey burger that led me to almost run into them at the store, however.  It turns out I make a damn good one.

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