Meeting up with my high school love interest, Jason, again at a fancy restaurant was like walking into a romance film. However, as the night went on, the endearing lad I had once liked showed a startling side I had not anticipated. This was supposed to be a romantic evening, but instead it became a sobering reality check.

Hello to all of you. I’m Emma, a 35-year-old who was formerly a reserved, serious high school student who enjoyed studying at the library over going out to parties. The golden boy of our school back then, Jason, seemed to have it all: good looks, good popularity, and an almost flawless appearance. Sarah, my closest friend, would frequently prod me to approach him, but I would always duck behind my glasses, thinking he was too good for me.

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Jason never appeared to notice me, always the centre of attention and surrounded by his pals. I was simply a face in the throng, too nervous to think he would ever look my way, and he was the star football player.

After several years, I had changed. The glasses and braces were gone, and in their place was a self-assured smile and stylish clothing. I was enjoying my best life, having developed a lucrative career in marketing. I recognised a voice from the grocery store one evening when I was selecting avocados.

Is that you?

I turned to see Jason; he was still handsome but a little older. He was taken aback. He exclaimed, “Wow, you look amazing.”

Jason? Hello! My heart was pounding as I answered, “It’s been so long.”
We caught up and shared life tales with each other. I talked about my recent return to the area and my work in marketing. Jason recommended we get together for supper to thoroughly catch up, omitting any information on his work. I nodded without thinking. It like a dream realised.

We got together at a classy downtown restaurant a few days later. Jason talked about his high school football days and his monthly get-togethers with his former teammates while we placed our orders. I noticed he looked to be caught in the past as I listened to him politely.

Our discourse meandered back to earlier times. He laughed when I told him about my high school library days and commented on how times had changed. I couldn’t get rid of the disconnected feeling despite the sentimental conversation.

When it was time for dessert, I excused myself to the loo. When I came back, Jason was tinkering with my plate. Before I could inquire, he loudly complained about the “unacceptable” hair and put a hair on my plate before calling the waitress over. After apologising a lot and fetching the manager, the embarrassed waiter eventually gave us a complimentary lunch and offered a free dessert as compensation for her trouble.

Jason smiled and described his trick. That’s how I eat at these locations without breaking the bank. My profession as a promoter doesn’t pay well.
I was taken aback. Jason, our high school idol, was still plagiarising and employing deceitful methods to make ends meet like he did when we were teenagers. I told him I would contact him soon, knowing full well that I would never, and tried to hide my uneasiness as I thanked him for the supper.

I was astounded by how much Jason had changed and yet remained the same as I drove home. The once-heroic figure was now enjoying his heyday and navigating life with questionable methods. I was astounded at how drastically our paths differed and blocked his phone.
Feeling reenergized and empowered, I told my friend Mia about the strange date experience the next morning at work. She laughed at Jason’s antics, bewildered. “Well, you got a great story and a free dinner at least,” she remarked.

When I thought back on it, I saw how much I had changed from high school. Jason’s antics made me appreciate the path I had taken by highlighting my own development and advancement. I was satisfied that evening as I unwinded with a glass of wine. Jason was just a memory, and he had no influence over me anymore.

I was happy and self-assured, prepared to face each day of the future with open arms.

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