I ran into a guy that I used to know yesterday. I won't go so far as to actually say that we were friends, although for a time we probably were. But it was more of a "drinking buddy" sort of relationship. We lived/worked in the same town and hit the same joints. It wasn't a great time in either of our lives, so we definitely spent way too much time and money in bars.
We would occasionally get together for golf or something, but he wasn't the kind of friend that I would invite into my home or set my sister up with. Just a guy that I knew who was sometimes fun to be around. Sometimes he wasn't fun to be around. Like when he got too drunk and developed the superpower to start bar brawls. That's not my gig.
One day he ran afoul of some legal trouble and he needed some money. Despite my better judgment, I lent him some even though I had real doubt about his ability to pay me back. Basically, to borrow from a scene in A Bronx Tale, I calculated the amount of money I could afford to part with for deducting someone from my life who I really didn't need or want. It worked too. Over the next year or so, I would run into him and he would either slip me some cash or sheepishly make an excuse to get going. Sometimes I would see him buying drinks for folks at bars and I would just turn a cold shoulder.
Although he paid me back a large portion of what he borrowed, he never settled the full tab. He moved a few towns away and I heard some stuff about him here and there. I even ran into him once or twice in the ensuing years. Mostly just a "howyadoin" moment. Or I would see him first and go the other way. Maybe he saw me too and did the same thing. I have no idea. I know that it was or it seemed uncomfortable for both of us.
But yesterday, there was no avoiding it. We were on top of each other before we realized it and there was no way around it. And you know what? After a brief hesitation, I had no bad feelings about him at all. He seemed to be doing well and I'm happy for him. We caught up for maybe two minutes, then I excused myself and went on my way. I don't know if he remembers that he never quite paid me back fully, or if he even cares. All I know is that I didn't care anymore.
I told him to "have a good one" before we parted ways. Mostly, between friends, that means have a good day. Maybe until the next time you see them. But I meant it as have a good life, because I hope he does.
He's gone from a guy that I actively avoided to just a guy that I used to know. I'd like to think that's a healthier way of dealing with...life.