The Return of Tracy
The following reflection was written in 2003, when I was between 25 and 26 years old.
It had been nearly three years since our first and only proper date when I picked up Tracy from her parents’ house in North Chelmsford in the days following Christmas of 1997. With a short haircut, she looked just as good as she had those few times I’d seen her at ultimate frisbee on my trips back home in college. I don’t believe there was any hug or anything, though there might have been. We got quickly into my ‘87 Ford Tempo for what seemed like an exact replica of that date three years before.
We stopped at an ATM just outside Drum Hill so Tracy could get some money and then, after some deliberating, drove over to the 99 Restaurant in Lowell, just down the street from KenMills’ house. It was in that same restaurant three years earlier that we’d begun our first official date. It was my hopeless romantic hope, now that I’d finally felt done with the Big Blue Funk of 97, that it might also be the place where we began a new relationship.
I allowed myself to labor under the delusion she was no longer with Shawn until she mentioned his name halfway through lunch that day. She hadn’t mentioned him in the e-mails we’d exchanged and she hadn’t mentioned him on the phone when I called to set things up and she hadn’t mentioned him for half of our meal. I was so hopeful, despite this nagging feeling in my newly matured brain that maybe I wasn’t into her anymore after all these years, and then she lowered the boom.
She flirted and teased me the way she had back in the day and we each talked a little about college and our lives since we’d last been in regular contact. After lunch we drove down to the new Showcase Cinemas right down the street. It wasn’t a movie at the Rte. 3 Cinema as it had been three years before, but it was close enough that it felt eerie. We decided to see As Good As It Gets, a new Jack Nicholson flick, and aside from laughing at the movie we were mostly silent for the next two hours.
As we drove around a bit afterward she reprogrammed my preset radio stations to light-rock and country, and we spoke about maybe hanging out at Shawn’s house later in the week. I was disappointed that she was no longer a possibility, but kind of happy to have her back in my life, and I said that sounded good.
I dropped her off and went home. I probably talked to my cousin Billy a bit about it when I got there, assuming they were still around, which I think they were.