I saw him there. Evaluating the menu.

I think a better thing to say would be, I felt him there. There was a pull, like a tug on my soul.

I almost asked him to have dinner with me…

But that would be silly, wouldn’t it?
To ask a stranger to share a meal with you…

I was in Atlanta for a conference.

It was Day 2 – a very full day – and I was over the peopling. OVER IT.

It was dinner time and instead of connecting with other attendees to continue the networking fest, I retreated into my room for some peace and quiet to research what kind of options were available. By foot, if possible. I knew a walk would help clear my head, and the weather was nice. And even though I wasn’t familiar with the area, it was light and active enough that I didn’t need to feel too vulnerable.

A Google Maps search revealed a farm-to-table establishment close by, and that was my ticket to escape the space.

We were both hovering close to the ordering station. I was there first, so should have been ahead of him “in line,” but I was trying to figure out what I wanted from the menu (read: I was trying not to order all the food).

I looked at him and said, “Hey. This is my first time here. Please don’t wait for me. I’m still trying to figure it all out.”

“Oh, yea? It’s my first time too,” he said pleasantly with a hint of curiosity.

And we retreated back into our shells, eyes on the menu.

I sat down with a sigh, because even though I wanted to be alone, I felt like the table was really empty.

Maybe I should have asked him to sit with me. He seemed nice enough…

But I missed the moment. And that was fine. There were plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t have asked him to join me. I pulled out my phone, took some pictures, started working on some social posts – you know, all the things we do these days when we’re alone at a meal.

I felt him – his presence – before I heard him talk.

“Ah…are you alone? Would you mind company?”

Oh, how I grinned.

The Universe gets its way – even when we get in the way.

We shared time and space.
We shared food.
We shared friendship.

It was like this moment in time when it didn’t matter that we didn’t know each other. We talked about growing up, employment, love, drugs, consequences.

When the meal was done, we walked together towards where his car was parked, and we lingered under the parking deck light – not wanting to break this moment.

So many next steps were possible…
The want of continued connection was tangible…

We hugged. Swapped numbers. And I walked away.

Knowing deep down that it was the right path, on so many levels.

But still letting myself feel sad about it.

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