Memories of Miranda in her yellow dress

The lodge was full of men and women who, in many cases, had not seen each other in ten years or even twenty.

Miranda looked like she did in high school—better, actually, in a formfitting charcoal dress that sort of shimmered when she moved.

“You look great,” I told her.

We were next to each other at the bar, trying to get drinks.

“You know, Cory, I have to tell you something,” she said. “My husband has been more jealous of you than he ever was of Joe.”

She and Joe had been the passionate couple that kept breaking up and getting back together again all through high school and beyond. They had even been engaged for a time, before Miranda got cold feet.

“Jealous of me? Why?”

“Remember when you took me to that winery?”

She had turned 21 the day after I did, and I suggested the trip as a way to learn about the new-to-us world of adult privileges and pleasures.

“You got rather tipsy as I recall.”

“I showed my husband the pictures you took.”

“When you started running barefoot through the vineyard?”

“Uh-huh, and the sun was going down …”

Later, on the dance floor, she and Joe had a conversation of their own:

“Joe, are you happy?”

“Yes, very. Are you?”

“I still think about us.”

I danced with her, too, and she asked me the same question. I wanted to let her know I still thought of her fondly. I even considered telling her I wished I had given Perry a real reason to be jealous.

All I had done was take a few pictures that turned out to be rather revealing. Pictures in which her yellow dress practically disappeared in the sun as it went down behind her. Pictures she had encouraged me to take, as I recall. Pictures she liked well enough that she had asked me for duplicates.

“Do you still have the yellow dress?” I asked.

She smiled and shook her head.

A lot had happened in the years after high school. Miranda and her husband, Perry, were living on a houseboat in Sausalito now. Joe was married, too. He’d met Karen on a vacation in Cabo. I had to admit that Karen was a surprise. Not what I would think of as Joe’s type. A bit stuck up, if you asked me. But then the heart is unpredictable. Joe was now working for Karen’s father, learning the real-estate business. As for me, well, I had Sloane — a sweet-natured artist I met at a street fair one summer and married the next.

Three hours and five drinks into the reunion, I made my way back once more to the table in the corner that served as home base for our little party.

Sloane said, “Did Joe tell you what song Miranda wanted to dance to?”

“No, what?”

“‘The Way We Were.’”

Not a song in the band’s repertoire, as it happened.

“It’s funny,” Joe said, “but I have no feelings for that woman.”

It was a surprising statement if you knew anything about their history together, and it was delivered with real conviction. Maybe because Karen was sitting next to him.

Even so, a few minutes later, clearly drunk, he leaned over to me and said, “Let’s go find Miranda.”

I laughed and looked around but didn’t see the yellow dress I was looking for.