PERFECT STRANGERS / OH COMELY

It can be a daunting prospect, getting to know someone. Cousins and birthmarks and old relationships and the songs they like and the movies they hate and the places they like to go to think. It’s exhausting. Then all of a sudden the relationship ends and it’s like you’ve learnt a language to a country you’re never going to visit again. What use do I have from knowing that one person’s favourite colour, or what their childhood fears were, or how they like their tea?

All that said, my favourite thing about you is how little I know you. I have no idea how you like your tea, and it’s glorious. As long as I don’t think about it too closely, the idea of learning about you is exhilarating. You make the idea of travelling down that familiar road seem somehow new. There’s so much to discover, but it feels like an adventure rather than a chore. You’re all potential and promise: every new detail is exotic and striking, every piece of family history an unearthed relic, every anecdote some glamorous story.

There are things about you that I do know. I was scared of you at first. You seemed so self-possessed. I’d find myself withering under your gaze, like you could see straight through me. To be honest, you seemed cold. It was as if you’d already decided that I had nothing of interest to offer. My fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy: everything I said would collapse out of my mouth and die.

I’m not sure how things changed, but somewhere along the way they did. It was like a sea-change. I discovered I could make you laugh. Your eyes crease up and you forget yourself for a second. It’s really rather lovely. I like that you’re pretty awkward. You’re probably more awkward than me, actually. I’ve realised that what I was scared of was actually bluster. It’s exciting-like knowing a secret. I feel I’ve seen something in you that most people would miss, something tender and thoughtful.

Of course, I’m aware that getting to know you properly will turn you into a regular person, filled with all the contradictions and complexities that will bring understanding but take away enchantment. It’s not a bad thing. Really knowing a person either replaces the giddiness with something deeper, or replaces it with nothing at all. If it turns out to be the latter, well, I’m okay with it.

It’s worth the risk. For now, I just enjoy you being in my life. I get excited when I see your name in my inbox, or when you enter a room. There’s a sense of possibility that courses through our every conversation like an electric current. Who’s to say what will happen next? Maybe we’ll get talking one random evening, the hours passing unrecognised as we finish a bottle of wine together and end up wandering the streets like teenagers, feeling ten feet tall. Anything seems possible. It’s not that I’m expecting anything to happen between us, but what’s quietly thrilling is knowing that it might.

Another thing I know about you is that you’re reading this right now. Of that I’m pretty certain. I hope the idea of that gives you pause and makes you wonder if I’m writing about you. And then, gosh, just for a second, just for a moment or two, I hope that you find yourself hoping that this is about you. Because let me tell you, oh splendid, maddening person, it is. Hi.

 

Published in Oh Comely Issue Eight. To read the original article click here.

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