“What do you want?” His voice was intent, his gaze glazy but piercing, he had this smirky look as he leans in on the table and looks at me with strained concentration.
“The Hoegaarden is taking effect. This guy’s drunk. Can he still drive?” I secretly thought.
We were at some tiny square lined with American-inspired cafes on the side of the highway. There are occasional race cars whizzing past and that D’Max light has been annoying us for 50 minutes now.
I never had the intention of answering, or revealing too many. Most of the time, I’m very at ease with new people. I am usually the curious one putting them in the hot seat of my mini-interrogations. But this one’s not making sense; I am obliged to talk. And by talk I mean tell about myself and not just explain an idea or reveal a shallow detail of my petty existence.
He went on like that for a while until I got uncomfortable. So I shifted my gaze to the roof of the cafe, shrugged, and said, “I don’t know.”
“I hope I didn’t bore you with my yeahs and I don’t knows.” I told him the next morning.
He ended up pouring more than what I wanted to hear to the point that I felt I owe him my own story. His regrets. His marriage. How that person could’ve been and how this person wasn’t who he thought she was. About Indians and soul retrievals, redeeming kayak rides, strong women from Stanford, Indian gurus and Robert Hand. It was an hour after we mulled over my astrology chart. And the books have annoyingly eerie precision. But when the book was out of interpretations and he went on his own reading about my chart, I might have just covered my ears. “I don’t know how you could have known that.”
“I went through the same.”
And the whole experience felt like talking to myself.
It rattled my comfort zone. I wasn’t at ease. I can’t even look at him in the eye. And why? Here is a person who I know would understand why my ailments are the way they are, why I ended up who I am and why the loneliness is persistent and abundant. Here is another soul who sees me through and not be judging of my flaws. Here is a human who understands that compassion is still a necessary virtue. But I was afraid of what I would find there if I continued digging.
I went home taking the only lesson I learned from that reading: I am insensitive. I never felt like I gained or lost a friend. I felt danger in the rawness that he showed; but also a stark familiarity. I recognize you, somewhere, somehow. And I know how it feels.