He closed his eyes and waited for Starr to arrive before it hit him: he had reached the place one day too early.
Cursing his memory for once, he decided to stay and have his dinner, mentally making a note to drop her a message and remind her about tomorrow. It wasn’t as if he had to. She would probably remember. It was just that, he wanted to. Because if he didn’t, he felt his old instincts of avoiding conversation would come into play and push him towards needless thoughts – best to let them not materialise and save his mental energies towards better things.
It was a dimly lit, quaint restobar. He had never felt so much at ease anywhere else. Unbeknownst to him, the bar had already kept a tab open for him, after his thirty-fifth visit in the last three months, a fact that was communicated to him by their head of brand marketing. The lady had joined him unannounced, one day as he had been munching on minced beef while taking hearty swigs of craft beer. For her, he was the ideal consumer. For him, she was the ideal professional.
He had met Starr in a tech summit.
He had been there to network. She had been there as a speaker. And she had spoken well. Articulate, to the point and just slightly longer than ten minutes, meriting not just respectable applause but quite a few business cards in the process as well. Including his. At that point, he had no idea what could transpire. He had mentioned a few words about her speech, never expecting anything more than polite nods. Polite nods were exactly what he received.
Three hours later, they had shared a joint in the parking lot and had told each other their life’s stories and promised to stay in touch going forwards for both personal and professional reasons, if any.
Starr was born in a middle class household. So was he. Their parents had been progressive, or rather privileged, simply by virtue of being in metropolitan cities surrounded by neighbours from a similar social strata. Not that it mattered a lot, but one’s social strata typically dictated one’s tastes, choices and broader outlook towards life. But what was there to life anyway? Was it an endless stream of memories left to the mercy of unknown forces beyond one’s control? Was it a deliberately planned journey dictated by forces who have a say in how we ‘ought’ to live? Was it a series of trial and error experiments that exposed one to the multiple shades of life, that it was? The truth is, that there’s simply no answer.
As they had become older, they had had the privilege of spending time with themselves and reflecting about how they could shape the destiny of their life for themselves, with a keen eye on all the external circumstances that would play a part and intersect during their chosen trajectories. How could one plan one’s life to be so perfect as to be ignorant of how uncertain the world was? They had seen a few surprises in their lives. They had come about when they had been least expected to. Like the time, when Starr had decided to take up acting classes for instance, much to the horror of her parents, only to quit after a year, citing how the ‘profile’ of her counterparts weren’t she had been expecting, since she was among the thoughtful types.
As far as she was concerned, she had learned much more than what time she had lost. And in retrospect she hadn’t lost much. She had understood how the entire content production cycle worked – from scriptwriters to casting directors to producers to directors to the background crew. From this perspective of looking at things, she had gained a lot.
She was a marketing manager at a software company now. In her free time, she had brushed up on several online courses for several months and come away with a complete understanding of the fundamentals of software engineering and marketing. When she had told him about this, he was in awe. This was exactly what he loved to hear: knowledge gleaned and transferred from one industry to another through learning and networking.
As far as he was concerned, he had no clue what to do. He seemingly wanted to do everything. Everything interested him and he wanted to learn everything. He was currently in healthcare, developing a new line of revolutionary medicine. He wasn’t the product guy. He was the business development guy. Although, being the product guy sounded cool to him, since it was about scientific principles and innovating around them. Before, he had been with a sports management firm, that lay at the intersection of media and entertainment, and hence by default, courted the portion of the marketing and advertising pie.
They had begun texting each other regularly for the past few weeks.
Their conversations bordered on everything. Deeply passionate about reading neuroscience literature, they had promised to help each other out to overcome their dragging procrastination habits, especially when they wanted to push themselves to do the simple things that would keep them sane in an age of ever-present distraction: meditate, read and write. Not for anyone, but themselves. He had confessed that he had never met anyone like her before.
So had she. It was beautiful.