I no longer recognize the person in my own photos. Am I to believe that a certain assortment of pixels on a screen is an exhibit of my face? I can’t spot the blackened lips, freckled nose and the derisive contempt in the left eye – are you sure that’s me? No, stop pointing a camera in my face, I can’t trust those things any more. Or mirrors, for that matter.
Describe me, will you? I want to know how I reflect in your mind’s eye. Am I only partially visible in your spectrum of light? Do you notice if I turn slightly blue, like a gloomy afternoon in the middle of winter? Do you see me dissolve into a conversation and disappear from within the crowd? Do I turn red when you make me blush? Do you ever open your eyes while kissing me and get the feeling that I’m not there? Are my tears transparent? Am I laughing when the corners of my lips turn up and my eyes wrinkle in mirth?
Dilate your pupils and look at me. Look, and then tell me something that is not merely a reflection on the wall or a puckered face on a screen.
He speaks with fantastic conviction, spilling half-truths and twisted facts with every word. He’s mastered the art; he keeps a straight face and looks directly into your eyes. His hands do not tremble when he looks away, and his lips do not press together to hide his guilt.
You’ve known for weeks now. He comes home sweaty and tired after work and immediately hops into the shower. Once you thought you saw a bite mark on his neck; another time you leaned in to kiss him and detected the unmistakable scent of another woman on his mouth. You recoiled from him then. You began to watch him closely for signs of a nervous collapse, but he seemed to have it together.
He makes no mistakes; no phone calls, messages, no photos. All data erased from memory. But you know it, you have felt it. There were no signs, but you have noticed the occasional hushed phone call to a ‘colleague’, meeting ‘college friends’ on Sunday afternoons. He never once slipped, but you saw and understood the ache in his bones after fucking her, or the smell of her pussy on his lips. He sleeps soundly at night, snoring loudly the moment he hits the bed. And you lie awake in the dark, wondering what your life has come to.
So why haven’t you confronted him yet? Perhaps you aren’t really sure and there’s a possibility that he isn’t cheating? Or perhaps you are scared to find out that he is; it opens doors to darker and disturbing questions – Who did he fuck? Did he love her? Are you not good enough for him? You close your eyes and push the thoughts out of your head, too painful to deal with at the moment. You find yourself still hoping for all this to go away, like a bad dream that never happened.
He wakes you up one day with kisses and caresses. He wishes you good morning, plays with your hair, smiling the way he used to. You smile back at him sleepily, and suddenly you’ve gone two years back in time; when you were young and stupid and madly in love. His lips graze your earlobe and whisper words of love. And just like that, you fall for his lies yet again.
The good thing about strangers is that they don’t know you. With them, you can be anyone you want. Mix, match and throw on a borrowed personality, see how it works out. Go get wasted with a stranger.
There’s a time when you feel a layer of disconnect and discontent settling around you. Try as you might, you can’t seem to get through, can’t seem to convey what you mean. The sea of familiar faces feel like strangers. They don’t know you and never will.
We spend hours mulling over some person’s character, trying to read between the lines. We spend an entire lifetime searching, not knowing what we seek, not understanding, not recognizing who we really are. We’re all lost within the eternal quest to know ourselves, lost in the search for love and happiness. We don’t know exactly who we are and there’s always a part of us that remains unknown, unexplored.
We’re scared to put our trust in strangers when reality is that we’re strangers to ourselves.