The thing about strangers is that they are strange. In the way strangeness can only be – uncomfortable. The way of crinkled fabric on tender skin or sawdust on the tongue.
These people we meet and sit together in rooms to do things together we have never done together before. We bump into them on street corners and in alleyways, in coffee shops and hallways of office buildings. We stand next to them in elevators and on escalators, feeling their breath. Smelling them. Every movement they make intensified in our own body.
We grow taut at the intimacy of various coloured bodies that are all around us. We imagine exactly what is not about these bodies precisely because they are separate from us, not our own. It is easy to do that.
I saw a stranger today. As I do every other day.
He crossed the road at just the same time I did. Our feet hitting the white and black lines in the same single moment. The synchronicity of our steps sounded louder than their separateness.
He smiled. I smiled. It was a moment of recognition. I see you. I see you too.
As I walked away I thought only of his smile. The way it tore into my world and made me warm from the inside. I forgot that he was someone I had never met before. A stranger. Instead I fell into his humanness as he and I pulled away from each other. He was me even as I was him. And there was nothing strange about that. It was familiar. Like coming home.
Because the thing about strangers is that they are us.