Stranger with a story

On the average day we make dozens of first impressions. We walk past people in the street, excuse ourselves as we squeeze past them in shops, sit beside them on buses. Every day we exchange tiny moments with strangers – polite smiles or accidentally met eyes.
In many cases, those few moments are all we’ll ever be to that person. We’ll probably never see them again and they’ll almost certainly forget that we were a participant in their day. Those moments are all the time we have.
I don’t really mind what people think of me; insofar as normal human vanity will allow, I don’t mind if people judge me for things. But somehow I feel different when it comes to complete strangers.
In that moment I want to convey to that person as much of myself as I possibly can. I want to be more than a shadowy figure on a bus. I want to spark a moment of interest, of recognition, of something.
I want to be a stranger with a story.
You know sometimes you see someone, on a bus or at a restaurant. And you wonder, just for a moment, who that person is. They catch your eye, for whatever reason, and hold it for a little longer than a stranger usually would. You want to participate a little in this moment of shared existence because they interest you. You can’t help but imagine (or invent) what the rest of their life is like. It’s hard to work out what it is about some people that make them vaguely fascinating. Maybe it’s a T-shirt or a book they’re reading. Maybe it’s the way they’re nodding slightly to a tune you can’t hear. Maybe it’s simply the way they look out the bus window.
In those moment there is the potential to be anyone. You can be a perfect (or imperfect) slice of yourself.
I think perhaps this is an extension of the orange pants theory. A year after I wrote that post I am certainly the sort of person who wears orange pants (and not just because they happen to currently be in fashion). A lot of the time I’m awfully quiet. I’m actually not particularly good at making friends and as such I’ve spent a lot of my life doing things alone. I don’t mind that. I like going to movies alone and restaurants alone and (to a slightly lesser extent) sitting in lectures alone. Somehow doing this while wearing outrageously coloured leg-wear or listening to a cassette Walkman makes it less lonely. It says “I know who I am, and I’m okay with this whole situation.”
I find it hard to understand people who mind being alone. I know it is partly a difference in personality but I think that alone-ness is a state of mind.
I don’t mind being a stranger sometimes.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year