We have all had this moment. The moment your eyes are entirely magnetized to a complete stranger, someone you have never seen before, and most likely, someone you will probably never see again.
But that doesn’t stop your brain and heart from nearly seizing into a fit of effortlessly constructed memories and idealized hopes of the future. Everything about them is the romanticized life you mentally Pinterested for your future while you were watching romantic comedies. This person is the real, but fictitious, mate that you have planned time and again to bring home to your family.
They are, without opening their mouth, or maybe without even making any sort of eye contact, your soul mate. The search for love has finally ended in the middle of the library, walking down the street, or sitting in the airport while you’re trying not to cry because this is the fourth time your plane has been cancelled today.
All you can see is the mental movie you created playing out every stage of your life together. It rolls through to a perfectly popular indie song because your relationship is a nice mix of mainstream and hipster.
But the whole time your imagination is growing, you are desperately trying to figure out why you feel this completely invented connection. It’s the way they smile. The way they run their fingers through their hair. The way they dress. It’s everything you have ever wanted in a human being incarnate. Then you sigh with equal parts pleasure and frustration because this isn’t logical. But then, you tell yourself that falling in love isn’t logical in the first place, while in the back of your mind you want to slap yourself across the face because this is actually crazy.
But as quickly as this beautiful person entered your life, they jump out of the subway, walk in a different direction, or leave the concert. But, you are still thinking about them. They fill your thoughts like you have been with them everyday for years. You imagined the mornings and the strolls through the farmers’ market. The walks and the surprise flowers. You can nearly smell their scent on your pillows when you wake up in your empty bed. This stranger leaves a mark in your heart, and you’re never really sure if has been for better or for worse, but somehow you turn out to be thankful for the experience.
Thank you, strangers, for giving me the opportunity to fall in love in the safest way possible. You never truly got to break my heart. Thank you for melting the metaphorical cage around my soul, showing me that I am capable of such emotions, even though I pretend I’m not.
Thank you for giving me a glimpse at the future I deserve. When I saw myself with you, I saw what I want in the person I love. I see bodies, gently enveloped in crisp, white sheets with the morning light shining through the sheer curtains. I see waffles and chocolate in bed. I saw the life that I want to have with the person I love.
In my mind, I see the way you look at me and I know that’s the way I want my love to look at me. Thank you for giving me an idea to keep me company. Thank you for letting me see the way I want to love someone and the way I want to be loved.
Thank you for your absent love, the love that I am not ready to have. Thank you for not being real so I can fall in love with my own life first. Thank you, thank you for allowing me the pleasure to create myself, while I imagine you are the one that wants me the way I want to be.
Thank you for this love to not stop with you. For letting it continue to even more strangers, and hopefully, finally the person who’s heart is half mine.
Thank you for sharing this imperfect, fleeting moment with me and filling my heart with imagined, invisible love.