It was to be a meeting with an old colleague, in old stomping grounds, but it turned into a reflection on the paths by which people become alienated from each other, and even from themselves. Along the way it also turned into a recognition of missed opportunity for something genuinely human, because no meeting ever took place.
I last saw Laurent seven years ago, when we both worked at Elysian Fields. He had been my divisional chief before he was encouraged to leave the corporation because neither his ambitions nor function were required any longer. I lasted some more months before being deposed by the less noble but more profitable artifice of redundancy.
He moved on to greener pastures, with a smaller company based in West End, which is where I lived at that time, and with which I was in love as the ambient territory of more than a decade’s experiences that included triumphs and desperation enough to make for a melodramatic TV series.
That day, though, Laurent and I were to ‘catch up’ over coffee at a local café. He chose the place and the time. I confirmed it with him just a couple of hours before the appointed time.