Whether it’s an old couple that has been married for 60 years, newly-weds on a honeymoon or a teenaged couple that has been dating for 6 months there is constantly people who claim to be in love. Yet when you ask them what they mean that they are in love or how do they know that they are in love you almost always get the same answer. After uttering some random words they all come to the same conclusion. No one knows what love is but when you are in love you just know it. Now I am skeptic and this answer for me just didn’t cut it. If anything this idea of love was just a story people told themselves to give their desires just a bit more of excitement. It’s nothing more than a biological imperative to reproduce.
Now I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that despite my cynicism I didn’t get curious. Perhaps it’s better to say admittedly a little jealous. Here there was these couples of happy people walking together holding hands,talking, and laughing. You’d watch movies with people overcoming adversity together in order to live happily ever after or reading poems with beautiful images. At times when my irrationality got more of a hold on me I was in a few relationships. But these only served to reinforce what I already knew. They were empty relationships with nothing special. Empty communication and zero connection. Now more than ever I was sure about the emptiness and artificality of these human connections. Those who talked about love and allowed themselves to fall for this where fools who just went along with what society told them. In the end there was nothing really special about them. Hell 50% of marriages end in divorce. Just further proof of how love is nothing but a word for an impossible dream.
You’re probably asking what the point of this is. So I am a bitter cynic trying to ruin things for you. Well usually you would be right. I take great pleasure at showing people the truth behind the curtain. But in this case I am here to share with you an anomaly. I am here to tell you about an odd event that has put my entire world view into question. So after a lot of babbling here we go.
It started like most things do. It was a day just like any other. I was going through the motions of everything just like any other day. Wake up, go to work, go home rinse and repeat. As I was off to lunch that day. I was walking to my usual lunch spot by my office building. Then suddenly out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention. There she was reading a book. That was the first thing I noticed. Now you must understand that as a person who enjoys reading finding a fellow reader is a cause for celebration especially when you find one in the wild. And while you may think that you can find other readers at a bookstore I can tell you now that most people there are not real readers and are either looking for a gift for someone who will never read it or getting that weeks bestseller simply to say they have the latest book by some celebrity. So there she was sitting outside a cafe. She had long wavy hair, wearing makeup, with some simple earrings, rings on her hands, her clothes well put together. Everything was put in place with a purpose. The whole scene was a work of art.
Before I go further let me tell you that one thing more ridiculous than love is love at first sight. That’s just stupid and I will not waste my time with an argument. As a book reader I am well aware of the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But a cover of a book not only can be a work of art but it offers a lot of hints about what you can find inside. And this cover was showing me that I had found something rare and I wanted to know more.
Now I am not the socially apt person nor do I have the most confidence. Yet this time I walked right up and asked her what she was reading. She rolled her eyes and in the driest tone you have ever heard she answers, “a book.” That went downhill extremely quickly. You never have this issue when you find a book. I was furious. It was a simple question and that attitude was unnecessary. Yet it was obvious that this wasn’t going to go anywhere so I went on with my day.
For the next few weeks she was there at the same spot reading her book always well put together; a work of art. Now I am curious person and I wanted to know more. What was this book hiding? What am I going to have to do to open it?
One day my schedule had been thrown off and I was going to lunch late. As i walked by she was there closing up her book. She stood up with her head held up high and her chin pointing up slightly. She walked as if the entire world was beneath her and everyone was looking up at her. Under her arm she carried her book. She passed me as if I wasn’t even there. I was able to catch a glimpse of the cover and saw the cover and part of the title.
I spent that afternoon trying to find the book. When I finally did find it I ordered it for next day delivery. I spent the weekend reading it. It wasn’t what I usually read but I didn’t care. Now what compelled me to do this? I have no idea. Was it curiosity? I like to tell myself that I just wanted to get past the cover and see what her deal was.
After the weekend I was back to my routine. I was exhausted from staying up all night trying to finish the book. I looked like a mess. Luckily I was used to being on automatic to get through my work. Lunchtime came and off I went. There she was at her usual spot. As I walked by I made a comment about how the main character was a moron. She snapped. There was no eye roll this time. Almost as soon as I finished my comment she pushed her chair out and stood up. “You idiot!” she said with her voice raising. “How can you say that?” she asked. As I tried to make my point she would constantly stop me to explain how I was wrong. We went back a forth for a while. She suddenly saw the time on her phone and got up in a hurry. “Same time tomorrow”, she said. I had been able to read the first few pages of the book and I wasn’t going to pass up on the opportunity to read more.
A spent the next few days going back. It was a battle of wits. She was a real fighter and I had to be on my toes. We’d go back and forth and never gave any ground. Eventually after going through this first book she asked “So what do you read?” The next day I brought my book and gave it to her. She opened it right away and said “ok come back tomorrow.”
The next day as soon as I sat down she quickly tossed the book to me. “ Not bad but I need to show you the good stuff. Meet me here on Saturday 4 PM. We need to go shopping” she said for the first time not sounding annoyed.
That Saturday I went to meet her there. I have no idea what compelled me to go. It really wasn’t the type of thing I did. She was basically a stranger yet here I was. She was 5 minutes late. “Let’s go” she said. I followed her. As we walked I realized that aside from books we knew nothing about each other. I asked her name. “Scarlett. You?” she quickly snapped back. “Jay” I responded. “You know we’ve been talking for weeks now that it seems we skipped over the small talk” I commented. “Guess so. Then I guess we should get that out of the way” she responded. As we walked we talked about the random details that don’t mean much yet seem essential to knowing someone:job,favorite food, age and so on. It was all pretty pointless as it seems we knew so much o\about each other from our book talks than anything these small talk could tell us about each other.
We arrived at the local bookstore. We spent hours combing through all the shelves. We were like kids in a candy store. I discovered areas of the bookstore that i had been ignoring most of my life. As we finished basically going through every single corner of the store we each had a stack of books which had found.
We walked back and when we got back to our usual spot. We sat there continuing to talk and the hours continue to pass. “It’s getting late. We should probably be on our way” I say. She just stood there without answering. She just kept giving me a strange look. “I’ll see ya” I continue and make my way to my car and leave.
When I come back on Monday to our usual place at the usual time she isn’t there. I decided to wait for my entire lunch break but she doesn’t show up. I figured something most of come up. But the next day I go back and still she wasn’t there. The week past and she hadn’t shown up. Despite the fact we had talked so much I hadn’t remember to ask for her number or anything. And why was I freaking out? She was just a stranger who read books. And yet I after this week of her not being there I was freaking out. This made no sense. I didn’t get it.
The following week there was still nothing. I kept going and she didn’t show up. I was feeling like a complete mess. I was really missing her and the world just felt different. Had I fallen victim to the same disease so many others have fallen for? Was I acting out the same tired out cliches so many others have acted out before? Was this payback for my cynicism and judgement of others? Whatever it was I felt like crap.
Going to that table outside the cafe had become part of my routine. I sat reading my book missing the debates I had there. Then as I sat there in my own little world a familiar voice says, “Get out of my chair.” I jump like a startled bunny rabbit out of the chair and let out a yell. “You alright?”, she asked. “Where the hell have you been?”, I demanded. “None of your business but if you must know I was on vacation” she replied with that typical attitude in her voice as she took my seat.
At this point I have no idea what went through my head. The mix of relief and anger and happiness had my head in a complete fog. Before anymore time passed and I missed an opportunity I awkwardly asked “hey you want to go to dinner or a movie on a date?” “Finally!” she replied as she rolled her eyes with that permanent attitude that she had. “Took you long enough.”