The most attractive thing to me is the unknown. There is something about making eye-contact with a complete stranger that thrills me. In mere seconds an entire lifetime of possibility passes between you, and the buzz that is shared in that moment is electrifying. It is intoxicating. I am not talking about attraction. Well, yes I am, but not of the traditional sort. I am not writing only about lust and love. I am writing about recognition and the desire for understanding. I am trying to capture the moment that holds not only romance but the possibility of a deep friendship or a challenging enemy. Sometimes, hell, to be honest, most of the time, the best seconds of knowing someone come in the moments before knowing them. You can go ahead and think that I am callous, preferring the objectified disembodiment of fantasy to the rich depths of real relationships, but you know it isn’t true. You know that I love intimacy and friendship. I love the joy of discovering truths that I could not imagine about people. But think about it. There is one perfect moment when you see someone and they are everything that you want them to be. They are funny, and their voice (although you’ve never heard it) is the sweetest sound that you can imagine. They are warm, and comforting. They are exciting and dangerous. They hold the knowledge of the world. They will be there when you cry, and their hijinks will always make you smile. They remind you of your best friend when you were five. Your parents would hate them, your current friends would not understand them, but you would love them. Across the room they are all of this and more. They are undefined possibility, and as long as they stay far enough away from you they can continue to play the hero in your fantasies. You wait for them to drop into your life, and sometimes they do. They give a word or a smile, and maybe it is not everything that you imagined but we are resourceful beings that quickly recreate our lies and so it is enough to fuel their perfection. You delicately ride this golden wave of mystery, hoping to just barely graze their surface, knowing any misstep will plunge you deep into their being.
It is there, beneath the waters of the flesh, that the imperfections lie. They become a friend or enemy and they are never what you never were aware that you expected from them. They are always different. Sometimes they are better, sometimes not as good, and even though it is not quite a disappointment it is still a bit of a let down, a deflation of excitement. You can grasp them, touch their existence. They become real, with all of their imperfections and surprises. For better or worse, the mystery is gone and they become a person.
Now the truth is that I am not writing about anyone that I have lost. The plunge into reality has usually been quite sweet, and I realize that there will be infinite fantasies out in the great wide open. What I am afraid of is loosing my own mystery. I know how enticing the unknown is, and I know that the known cannot compare to the unknown. It isn’t better, it isn’t worse, it is on a different plane altogether. I know this and yet the possibilities that I will never have after hello has been said cut me to the core. Even while writing this I know that it is not a big deal. I can whimper and whine over the perfection that I am not, but I will always desire the arms of a lover, the knowing smile of a friend, the pointed comment from a rival, and the stinging love of family rather than the cool, distant excitement of mystery.