I’m so sorry that we both had to go through that. Really. It was super uncomfortable for me, and I cannot even imagine how it must have made you feel. I mean, I was just standing there and minding my own business, and then I guess I looked up at the exact right time and… There you were. You stood there, your wave being the crack of dawn, the first rays of sunlight peeking out over the trees. And since I’m a sucker for sunlight, I waved back. That was the moment when everything stood still in the absolute worst possible way. The split seconds ticked by so agonizingly slowly, like a car crash but I was the car that was out of control and skidding off of the road and into you, the tree that just happened to be there. At the very second that you saw my hand go up to wave back at you, you made a face that has burned itself a hole in my memory. You and I both know the face: the narrowing eyes, the down-curved corners of your mouth, the actual epitome of confusion. Believe me, when I looked behind me and saw the actual person you were waving to, that face represented everything I felt in my realization. I think I actually felt my soul die a little. But, in my defense, you were looking right at me. Your eyes connected with mine, and if you and I were ever to have an actual discussion about this one eternity of a second that happened over a year ago but somehow I still can recall vivid details of, then I’d have to tell you that you could have easily turned another fifteen degrees to face your friend. But you looked at me. Actually, no; if I’m going to be honest, you didn’t look at me exactly. What you looked at, what your sunshine line of sight absorbed and tried to nutrify for as short of a time as it turned out to be, was my hermit crab-like shell. All you saw was that shell, though; you weren’t able to see the crab that has been trying so long to escape. You weren’t able to see the version of me that isn’t so oblivious. You saw the shell, how it always liked to decorate itself with trivial attachments like necklaces and nail polish, how it carried on its normal way of life with little to no change. What you didn’t see was how the crab felt so claustrophobic in the one thing that was supposed to protect it. What you didn’t see was the crab’s desperation for some kind of help in escaping its too-small shell. Maybe that was why my subconscious literally forced my hand: to maybe, just for that eternity of a second, pretend that some other being outside of myself would be willing to spread the same kind of artificial positivity and support. Maybe I wanted to pretend that someone else wanted to know just as badly as I did how to take their campfire heart and let its smoke disappear into the dark and distant unknown. Of course, I didn’t receive that satisfaction. But, that’s alright. What I did receive was the realization of myself that I so desperately needed. I needed to rip myself free from the shell that was holding me down for so long and instead find one that held my soul like a mother holds her newborn baby. So to you, the one who I accidentally waved to over a year ago in the lunch line… to you, the one who made me open my eyes to the truth that was staring me in the face for so long… thank you. But for the love of God, let’s not ever do this again. I can’t take this embarrassment twice.
the one whose name you never knew.