I went to the Olive Tree Markets on Saturday. It’s in the grounds of The Junction Primary School, in Newcastle. It gave me a serious case of schoolyard envy – there was a huge veggie patch with a scarecrow and everything. The market stalls were pretty good too, though a little skewed to the baby bib spectrum. The Sprogs had been promised a small gift, so they settled their attention on the pet rock display. As they handed over their money I heard the stall-holder’s voice and thought, “My god, I know that woman”. I looked up and, sure enough, through the 20 years of added experience on her face – and a switch from red hair to blonde – since I last saw her, I recognised Jane, who was once a mate. I even have a photograph of her at my 21st birthday party. She’s obviously become quite the astute businesswoman since we last me, the pet rock in the picture was purchased for $3 in the lucky dip. It’s the size of your pinkie fingernail.
Jane didn’t recognise me and I hesitated, uncertain whether to say anything. Do you say hello to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in 20 years? Or do you just let it go?
I let it go.
It seemed a bit pointless. Like when my first boyfriend cycled past me one day, said “Alana House” and kept pedalling. I mean, why bother?
Sure, if I’d made the effort we could have done the whole, “Oh, yes, Alana! So lovely to see you. What have you been up to? Sorry … excuse me while I serve these other customers …” That might have been nice. I suppose.
But I walked away.
What do you do when you spot someone from your past? Do you pretend not to see them? Do you say their name and just keep pedalling? Or do you hang around for a chat?