THE STRANGER SERIES: INSTALLMENT I.MMXVI

WORDS BY ZOE GILLIGAN / @SAOLZOE


"People are strange when you're a stranger."
- Jim Morrison

It is a simple truth to state that humans can love, give, and connect without having to know a name, phone number, address, amount of Instagram followers, or even a life story. The potential of human ingenuity is boundless when it comes to the heart. The fullness of one's compassion often is strained and restrained by social etiquette deemed proper for each of one's relationships, but when it comes to strangers, there are only two ways in which people act: they either hold themselves back even more, fear of consequences from violating the societal norm of keeping away from strangers, or they thrust themselves fully and wholly in simply because they are strangers — both parties are unknown to the other and they probably will never see each other again. But the strange thing is that as strangers, we actually often do feel like we know each other. We can connect even deeper because there are no personal attributes (though rather like obstructions, in many instances) to distract and take away from the overall raw human experience of understanding one another. 
   To understand is a gift, but to be understood is an ultimate rarity for which people spend their whole lives searching and yearning. Strangers are best for understanding because there are no background biases off which they can judge. Strangers are open windows and they can be whatever view you need them to be. However, everyone is a stranger and strangers are everyone, therefore we mustn't forget that strangers also are real people with actual lives and feelings as well. This series, which will run in monthly installments (so long as there will always be words in need of sharing), is a testament to these strangers. It's to these strangers with whom we've all crossed paths, to these strangers who have changed our lives — for better or for worse — and to the variety of bonds we forever will have with them. Though they may be gone, we will always keep a part of them with us — as they will with you — and so this is our reaching out to them, our finding them, and our never forgetting them.

For all the strangers lost and in love who cannot help but doubt and who fear forgetting, this is for you.

*****

                    To you.


I often wonder about you. In fact, I think about you all the time. Everything just seems to go back to you. And I smile to myself, as you did to me that day. Only I may get to see the teeth in your smiles, so secret and knowing. I wonder how I may find you — if I ever will — and I realize that I will find you in these letters. Through these words you will present yourself to me and we will have found one another. We won't need much else — just a table and two chairs, and a lot of time. We can also picnic and go for strolls along the Riverwalk. I love to walk and I know you do too. And somehow when your eyes will burn holes into mine like the scalding water in your shower does to your shoulders, I will not move — I will just stay there, watching, waiting, basking in your brown delight. I will stay. I will say nothing and you will remain silent too, but we will understand one another as young people do and have done around the world since time itself began.
   I am a dreamer, a lovesick fool losing to the classic means of a heist — a young love that is a self-deluded, childlike fantasy; a young love typical amongst others, full of heated blood rushing to a pounding heart in skin desirous to wear yours. But do I really wish to blanket myself in your skin? Or do I just wish for a distraction from the losses of love I am mourning. Did I simply create you for this sole purpose? I am losing in what could be and what will never be, so I can only hope that I am the water on your skin from when you shower and the dent into which you fit perfectly on your mattress. You are there and I am here, but you are here and I am there. You are my own private and personal metaphor, yet I fear I have already faded far from you. Did you notice my leave? Do you wonder who I am and where I've gone? Have you already forgotten so quickly? Remembering is all I can do, so this is for you. You know me. Now remember me and find me. These are your directions.

"I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent, starving I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disquiets me,
I search the liquid sound of your steps all day.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
For your hands the color of the wild grain,
I hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond. 
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your loveliness,
The nose, sovereign of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes, 
And I walk hungry, smelling the twilight
Looking for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barren wilderness."

– Pablo Neruda
I love another, but I send this over lakes to you, knowing you will understand.

                    From me.

*****

Have you ever forged an undeniable bond with a stranger, whether friendly or intimate? Do you have words of love, hope, gratitude, or even contempt to share with them? Send those words to WRITTEN CITIZEN for a chance to publish everything you've ever wanted to tell the stranger that got away.

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