I say, dearest, even though I have no idea what your names are and I have never spoken to you. You don’t know my name yet somehow we have become part of each other’s lives. I only know you all by the code names I came up with. Not derived for surreptitious reasons but merely by the random location and timing in which I encounter you on a daily basis. And this letter is to you all. The unique advantage of following a strict time schedule and being anal about following routines is that I recognize constants. Somehow, along with the buildings and roads and things that do not move on a day to day basis, you guys seem to be as much a constant as any. I imagine that your fixed routine is the result of your circumstances, unlike mine which is due to my neurosis and for your sake I hope it isn’t. Although one could argue that there’s a kind of sadness to being chained to your own obsessions.
Every day when I leave my house I know who I will run into and where. It so happens that more times than not, i notice you when you aren’t there rather than when you are. I only see you in passing I’m usually on my bicycle. My neurosis doesn’t let me choose different routes. I have convinced myself that this is the nearest and best path to and from work although according to google maps are 3 paths that have the same ETA. I wonder how i ended up with this one. Maybe it’s because of you all. So stick with it knowing that I will see you and it’s a relaxing feeling like greeting your neighbor in the morning and knowing the world has not gone to shit overnight, although my Twitter feed disagrees. It almost centers me knowing everything will be ok and the world is still the same, at least for another day. I know you notice me as well. I see that glimpse of recognition in your eyes followed by a calm on your face as i wiz past with my eyes straight ahead as i pretend to not look at you hoping you don’t look at me looking at you. We both do.
There are several of you and like all relationships in life some more special than others. The woman at the bus stop on my route to work. The mother who rides her bike with her kid attached to the back seat, the morning runner in the blue t-shirt, the old man walking his dog, those 2 middle aged morning walkers chit chatting their way to health. Then there are others like the cashiers at the local supermarket, people I come across at the gym, we know each other’s routines, we notice each other work out clothes and probably even our PR’s. It’s strange that i actually consider you guys my friends. I have countless “real” friends who I used to often hang out with and go drinking with, and yet I don’t miss them one bit. In fact i would never even think of them unless of course i see them on Instagram and even then i can barely get myself to care. There’s something to be said about distance. It is indeed is the real murderer in life. It has the power to kill anything. No wonder most couples never make it as the space between them widens. Figuratively or literally. So the ones i meet everyday become my de facto friends. So what if i don’t know your names and never actually speak to you. You’re more close to me than some of my friends i went to school with for 10 years.
And now to the girl passes me by, not once but twice on my way to work and back. I sometimes leave earlier in the evening even though it saddens me to have missed our passing by ritual of a casual feigned pretense of ignorance. I see you. I see you seeing me. I know you see me do the same. Your smile gives that away. And just as you would with your regular friends, I start to notice things. Clothes, mannerism, facial expressions, whether you are having a good day or bad. I’m sure you think “Does this guy actually wear the same black jeans and has fixed shirt for each day of the week?” Yes, madam, I do. Unfortunately. But thank you for noticing.
The reason I’m writing though is to say goodbye. It’s been nice knowing you, but soon you will be forgotten. Until one day I will look at someone who resembles you and I ‘ll try really hard to remember who they remind me of until inadvertently your face flashes before my eyes, and I’m left with a smile. Partly because I’m secretly proud that I remembered and partly because it takes me back to the days when I would see you and remember how my life was back then. I’m moving to a new city. As much as I hate change, it is inevitable. I would like to think that one day we would have met and realized we were soulmates or chatted like old school friends catching up and trying not to reveal how much we already know of each other’s lives through social media and appear like a creep. But that I’m afraid will never happen. But no worries. You’ll realize I have moved on when you stop seeing me. I hope you will be sad. I know I will.
Your dear friend.