I ran into an old friend last night...
I was having a drink at the bar next to my favorite laundromat while waiting for my wash to finish, when I noticed her sitting at the barstool next to mine. We were both absorbed in our phones, pretty oblivious to the commotion around us until I felt something touch my foot. An immaculate bright blue Coach purse landed on the ground below me and without hesitation, I picked it up.

Her eyes lit up when she noticed whose foot her purse had just made contact with and gave me a tight squeeze. We had gone our separate ways after college--me to Brooklyn to open my own letterpress studio, her to grad school--and had barely spoken in the last four years, save for the usual "Happy birthday" Facebook posts and periodic cc's on email chains with old school friends.

I was surprised to learn how different our lives had become. She had three kids, a husband, a cute little house in a quaint Oregonian suburb, a part-time job writing for a soap company. 

I wasn't sure if I was jealous or pitied her.  As she sipped her wheat beer, the orange slice on the edge kept hitting her in the nose and leaving little droplets.  She told me about how she wishes we kept in touch more; wishes we didn't drift apart.

But how could we not drift apart?  She was clearly not somebody I'd even give the time of day had we met tonight.  If she came up to me at the bar--a perfect stranger--I might even assume she was an uppity soccer mom.

Was I any better?  My over-dyed red hair and three-sizes-too-big sweatshirt made me look like an angsty teenager.  The bartender demanded my ID when I ordered a whiskey neat, as if I was trying to sneak into the bar to have a whiskey with my yuppie older friend.

As my old friend jabbered on about her renewed sense of passion and "zest for life" I seemed to tune out to everything else around me.  I somehow blocked the sound of her voice and instead only heard a faint humming sound--like a ceiling fan or refrigerator.  

Suddenly, my daydreaming snapped and my friend's pale face came into vision.

"Did you hear me?" she said concerned.  "I have cancer."