You were a stranger, but not really—we knew each other’s names, but we were never introduced, never talked. I was that silent persona walking past you while our eyes locked, and I smiled as I saw you caught me staring. Our secret, stolen glimpses with one another made that strange connection deeper. You knew I was staring at you and I knew you caught me, yet we pretended to have not noticed one another. No one gave the other a smile. Not a hi, not a hello.
And then, I got to know you. You’d pass by my me, creating reflections upon my glass walls, and I’d melt inside as I saw you steal a glance at me, smiling. You’d talk to me about the things you like, about the things you don’t like. I got to know you, but not really. I knew how you are, or how you wanted me to know you—someone who’s interested in me, mysterious, busy, always out of reach. You’d ask me out, lunch or breakfast; I’d comply, get things ready, and get my hopes high. And then, you wouldn’t show up, and I am left alone, watching my hopes crumble to the ground. All alone, thinking that everyone deserves better than being stood up. Over and over. By the same person. I liked you better when you were a stranger, someone whose distant smiles made me happy even though they weren’t for me.
We were better off as strangers, two people who do not have any accounting against one another. I need not tell you where I was; you need not explain why you couldn’t show up. There was no connection between us, only meaningful stolen moments. Only exchanges of embarrassed smiles to the ground as we looked away from one another. You were more than what I bargained for. You were different from what I thought you would be. Knowing you was surreal, and you became a paradox: you turned even more to a stranger when I got to know you.
Thank you for the short-lived happiness that you gave me, for making me believe in what is surreal, and I will no longer wear the smile that you gave me. You have become my personal weltschmerz.