As mentioned two days ago, I have decided to try writing letters that I don’t intend to deliver in order to get some closure from baggage that I’m still carrying around. I don’t use real names, but the events are true, even if they’re vague for anonymity.
Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I remember your name today, even though I’ve forgotten most of the words of your language. Is that sad? Maybe not. Do you remember me? Is your English any better?
You know, I never told you, but I learned your name because you wore glasses, so I could recognize you. I know that the people in your country don’t all look the same, but isn’t that a problem that we all have? It just takes a while for us to recognize what features are significant in distinguishing one person from another? We all need to learn if it’s hair, skin tone, eye color, nose shape, cheekbones, forehead size, etc. We all look for the features that we are used to, so I looked at hair and eye color. Black hair and brown eyes were everywhere. You were the first one I met with glasses, and the lenses had a little blue brand name on one of the lenses.
I paid attention, but I didn’t understand most of what I saw. I was young. So young.
Did you know that you were the first guy that I flirted with? It’s true. I was only going to be in your country for a few weeks, so there was no future, and no risk. I felt so free and beautiful. My appearance was pretty exotic, I suppose. Would you believe that I’m actually quite plain here? Would you believe that I gained more weight since you knew me? You were right to worry about my health, but I didn’t listen to you, because in my culture, it’s not polite to bluntly tell someone they need to lose weight. Also, I was trying to commit suicide in a socially acceptable way, so that people wouldn’t get angry at me. It was complicated.
In many ways, I was unhealthy.
So, honestly? I liked you. A lot. I was impressed by your faith and your ambition- how you actually wanted to be someone who changed your country for the better, instead of someone who wanted to complain but wouldn’t get involved. You were remarkable. And intense.
Do you remember holding our hands up to one another through the airport glass? Did you know that as my plane took off, I mouthed the words “I love you” out the window? It was a perfect moment, like a dream. It felt like a movie. But you haven’t shown up randomly in a coffee shop or book store, we haven’t recognized each other, and our romance hasn’t been absurdly successful. Because this isn’t a movie, and because strangers do not end up living convoluted, destiny-laced lives. Nope. I’m just gone. You go on. I go on.
I don’t know anything about you really. Language barriers really prevent friendship from forming. How can trust or common ground form when we can only talk about a handful of topics? Who are your parents? Do you have siblings? How do you treat people around you? Are you kind or cruel? Do you have a short temper?
Were you only looking for an excuse to immigrate here when you asked me to be your girlfriend via email? Everyone told me that you were, but it didn’t feel true to me, not at the time. But who was I to judge you really? I was just a stranger from a shared dream.
Why did you remember me for so long? Why did you enjoy the day that we caught a salamander together? Two adults, scurrying around the room like children, chasing that little amphibian until we caught it finally, then laughing at the squirming tail in our hands after the little guy had skittered away? Why did that afternoon keep me in your mind? Why did you tell me you couldn’t find a girl like me in your country? Why would you say this stuff?
Am I a bad person for acting like people in my culture do? Is something wrong with me for reaching out to you with only shallow interest, rather than with earnestness? I didn’t know that your people don’t flirt. I thought my culture was universal. I was so young.
I’m sorry. You life would have been much easier if I had never entered it, or if I hadn’t chosen that trip to be my flirting debut. If I hadn’t felt free and beautiful, and if I hadn’t treated that trip like an adventure. But I was so young! I was caught in that stage of legal adulthood and mental idiocy! I’m sorry.
Please forgive me. Please forget me. It’s for the best.