Sunday, September 21, 2014


I know you. I see you across the lobby most times I sit there in between my appointments. You look so much like a version of her, a woman with whom I had a very volcanic understanding. It's a great line to use, the ol' "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?" one, but that time has already passed. I look at you now not because she was in my life, I look at you now because you're here in ours.

I've caught you. You've caught me. Sometimes you sit where I can see you. Sometimes I sit where you can't see me. Sometimes we don't sit anywhere near one another. Sometimes we aren't even looking. Tourists and business travelers come and go, but habitual creatures crave patterns. There's got to be a reason I kept seeing you. There's got to be a reason you keep being seen. Maybe all the reasons are just imaginary ones. Maybe I'm just a different kind of lonely from yours.

I know you. I see you often enough to note the following things. You don't read for pleasure in between your appointments. There's nearly always a pen in your hand, rewriting some jabber on the jibber page. You drink small, and light, and sip. Yet you dress for attention, for appeal, for the fashion. Not humble. Aware of how you look, aware how you're intimidating men and women, shy too much to be honest yet. You've not been on the phone. You're not scrolling through texts or inanity or blogs or updates or tweets. You have textbooks to learn from and a notebook to discuss it with. I can't remember if you had more than one guest sit with you. You tend to be alone. But I don't know if you're lonely.

I've watched you scratch an itch on a heel once hidden by a shoe you let drop. I've watched you run a hand through your hair. I've watched you look up to watch me. You didn't look shocked or embarrassed, upset or annoyed. You looked like you didn't mind. 

One day I overheard two guys talk about you. One of them said you were hot, that you're everywhere he goes when he's in town, that you're hot. The other one said he should give you the D. They were also talking about how hard it is to keep up dating after a few dates. After paying a lot of money to feed his date, the one said, he felt he was owed at least some explanation for the long silence after the third or fourth date, the long silence fading into contact deletion. The other avoided the obvious advice and opted to say instead his girlfriend wants to get married, but he's not ready. Perhaps he's not that lonely yet.

So it came as a bit of a shock when I turned the corner last time to see you sitting in my corner, and it was an even bigger problem for me when I saw you looking right at me looking right at you. What magic is this? It didn't take a second of catching eyes, but it was enough of a reading, a message, a pattern, a reason. But I wasn't going to stay there, and I wasn't going to wait in that line. I needed to leave that building already, and now I knew I was on my way out. Maybe you hoped for something more, a conversation finally. I don't know. I don't really know you.

But I know I am lonely in a way you couldn't begin to heal or fix or smile into comfort. I know you're not her, and you're not her, and you're not her. You're someone I watch, who sometimes watches me. You have no idea who I am, and I have no idea who you are. You don't know why I cry or hit walls or smash my head against hard things to still the anger and doubt and despair and fanged lust inside. You don't know how much a fraud I am. I don't know why you study so hard and work so solitary, how you roll up your doubts and stuff them away in a backpack you carry around this terminal. I don't know how much of an original you are.

I know you're a muse, and maybe that's enough. Counting this one, that's three who've crawled down my fingertips as threats against oblivion. I have never seen you smile, and I'm fearful what will happen if I do. I am not that lonely, but no one said longing means lonely, though they'll make us feel that's true.

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