i’ve been watching (in the least creepy way possible)
dear stranger who was sitting in maseeh hall on call with a friend,
thank you for making me laugh. “stop insulting vegetables by comparing yourself to them.” what a line, and so perfectly delivered too.
dear stranger playing piano on stud 4 just a few days after it opened,
you’re amazing. i almost knocked on the door to tell you that, but i didn’t want to startle you. in a way, there’s a sort of beautiful peace that comes from sitting alone in a practice room, with nothing but the instrument in front of you and the ghost of hundred-year-old composers around you, and who was i to disturb that? but yes, i did hear your ondine, and yes, it was kind of magical.
dear stranger who barrelled down the hall in your mint green hoodie,
your backpack was unzipped. sorry for not telling you. i only realized after you’d walked away. i hope you didn’t lose anything, and if you did, i hope it wasn’t too important.
dear stranger across from my friend and me as our conversation settled into insanity,
i hope we didn’t scare you too much. you see, there’s something fun about leaning too much into the craziest aspects of ourselves sometimes. it’s a little break from reality. it’s nice to pretend we care too much about something that doesn’t matter, because for a moment, the things that do matter become just a little lighter. we were definitely a little too loud, though. also, i hope you figured out the mystery of how to unwrap an onigiri.
dear stranger who rollerbladed through the infinite,
i only caught a glimpse of you before you glided past us humble walkers, turning and twisting and dodging. i stopped breathing — just for a moment — before i realized that you didn’t need it. that you didn’t need me to hold my breath for you. that, in a way, breathing came more easily to you than it did to the rest of us.
dear stranger who sat at our table on stud 5 before we came,
why would you order a plain green tea without sugar at tea-do? respectfully, what’s the point? just kidding. i admire your ability to distance yourself from sugar. an ability that i have yet to figure out.
dear strangers who hugged in front of stata that one cold morning,
i saw you from afar and above, insulated by thick glass and the height of the second floor. i was in lab, waiting for my cell media to thaw, and i had time, so i made up stories for you. was it a confession, perhaps? you, with your hands in your pocket, eyes on the ground as you spoke. you, looking at the other, smiling because you’ve dreamed of this moment for so long. or was it a reminder of your friendship? a see-you-later, let’s-grab-lunch-sometime. a quiet i’ve-missed-you.
dear stranger who said crazy ex-girlfriend was your favorite show when you saw us watching it in the new house arcade,
you have fantastic taste. how did you start watching it, i wonder? were you bored one day, scrolling through netflix, and it unexpectedly caught your eye? or were you hounded by a super-fan friend for months, begged again and again to give the show a chance? you’ll love it. i promise.
dear stranger who dropped your chapstick that rainy night as we weaved through the puddles lining dorm row,
sorry for scaring you when i handed it back. it was dark, and i kind of just appeared out of nowhere. i hope you weren’t too startled. and i hope you didn’t have that much longer to walk, because it was a cold, soggy night. the kind of cold that clings onto your skin and squishes beneath your toes.
dear strangers waltzing through an empty lobby 13,
i wish i could’ve stood there and watched you dance forever. you made the space seem so small; it was like you were everywhere at once, swishing and twirling and tapping and gliding and — almost flying.