Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Perfect Strangers

I charged up the stairs as the noise above told me what I already knew: I was late. Chagrin swept over me-didn’t I commit myself to be earlier for this?

I reached the meeting area, and scanned the room for an empty seat. Everyone was on their feet-the games had started. I continued surveying the room, trying to find an avenue to blend in.

That’s when I saw you.

It was only for a second before the sea of other faces swallowed up your face again, but it inexplicably attracted my instant attention. I knew I was going to be rudely staring at you for the rest of the day. And I was right. I couldn’t keep my eyes off you. All throughout the meeting, and even when we headed down for refreshments later, I stole as many glances as I could, examining your face, observing and analyzing your every reaction.

Who are you? I thought to myself. I was embarrassed and ashamed. This would be the third time something like this has happened. I’m beginning to be such an immature girl, with selfish thoughts and ridiculous hopes. However at the same time I was hopelessly curious about this new being that caught my attention so effortlessly. What draws me to you? Is it your smile? Your laugh? The way you fill up the room and make conversations with strangers with absolute ease? At any rate, you have succeeded in intriguing me with your personality. More importantly, I am filled with the overwhelming presumption that I should know you. That I have met you somewhere, talked to you before. You are unbearably familiar. Why?

I smile to myself as I recall the other times when I was hopelessly caught up with perfect strangers just like you. Strangers, who for some reason, catch my eye before I even know their name. I hear you introduce yourself to other enthusiastic girls, who unlike me, know how to deal with a catch when they see one. But in my eyes you are not just a catch. This is more than just teenage hormones. At least I think so. I don’t think the other young girls feel the same pull I have for you. This more of you are a kindred spirit, like there's something only both of us would understand.

Samuel, you reply. That’s a nice strong name. But it eliminates any notion that I’ve met you before. Then again, people change, right? So Samuel what? What’s your name? Who are you, really?

Then I think to myself, shouldn’t I ask? Why not? I’ve been staring like a stalker at you for the past two hours, have you noticed me yet? Have you realized what a freak I am? Or are you completely oblivious at how you have transformed the entire afternoon for me? I don’t blame you. Compared to the other people you’ve met, I’m certain I’m just plain...well, plain to you. And yet, still, I plot in my mind. Maybe I could just step in line with the rest of the other hopeful girls, wait for my turn to introduce myself. Maybe I’ll ask for a phone number I would never call, an email address that I would never use. But that wouldn’t be right. I wanted more than just an introduction; I wanted a conversation with you. I wanted to know everything about you. Sadly, I don’t have the guts. I’m less than these other hopefuls around me, because immature as they are, at least the have the courage to step up and face you, be it for the wrong motives. I, however, am a pathetic coward.

So I sit, and I plan without action, and stare, wishing you would stare back, dreading that you would. I sit and wonder what you’re thinking, when your friend slaps your back, when this girl giggles at her good fortune of being right in front of you. I sit and watch, taking as much of you in as I can.

All too soon, it is time for you to go. I step outside, away from the noise, trying to rearrange my incoherent thoughts. And suddenly, you’re here right next to me, talking to your friend, asking which car you’re going back in. Here you are, giving me one last chance to know your name, and more perhaps.

My one last chance to do something, to act towards this instinct that I have for you, to change this ending that is so similar to the few that I’ve had.

I reach out my hand, and stretch it slowly, slowly towards you. I pause, and take in a breath.

And then I let you go. You turn away, leaving a gust of breeze in your wake.

I follow you with my eyes as you drive away, disappearing out of my life forever. I smile to myself sadly.

Many girls have told me about their numerous occasions of being attracted to random, so called “hot” (what a teenage word!) boys. I, on the other hand, have only had this twice so far in my life. Whether it is a blessing or a curse, I do not know. All I know is, it is better for me and for you to let it go. To let you go. Because, for some reason, I know I’m not ready. Not ready for you, or for anyone else just yet. It would be terribly selfish of me to hurt you just to get instant gratification. It would be wrong for me to act on a whim and so have the risk of letting you down, and hating myself in the process.

I could easily convince myself that all I want is to know you, but I know how little control and prudence I would have as time goes by, as my romantic imaginations get the better of me. No, it is better this way, to have a clean slate, to not complicate things, to avoid playing with temptation. Is it me being ridiculous and rejecting love at first sight? I don’t think so. Firstly because I don’t think this is love at all, and secondly what I want most is to keep people I care about (whether I know them or not) safe. And where this would head is definitely not safe. Is it my conscience? I’d like to think so. I’d like to think that it’s me being wise. That I’d not regret this decision. And I don’t think I do.

Still, this would be one of those big what-ifs I have in my life. But, because I care about you, would I have it any other way?

You are a perfect stranger. I think it's best to leave it that way.

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