When I See You


It’s the first time. It’s always the first time. Your face is something which is constantly disappearing behind me, unable to hold onto anything in my memory. I think that’s what happens when I really care about someone — they become an amalgam of all the things that are wonderful about them, and their face has to sort of make way for the rest of it. I only have so much space in my head, you know.

So when I see you, every time is new. There are those first few seconds of recognition, a baby opening its eyes slowly against the overwhelming unknown of the world around it. I can’t quite take you all in; it would be like staring directly into the sun. I have to take you in out of the corner of my eyes. If I can’t meet you head-on, it’s because it is all too much for me, all at once. I have to measure it out and take it on slowly. You have these eyes, that nose, this hair.

In truth, though, it doesn’t really matter. You could have any eyes, or nose, or hair, and you would be just the same. You would be just as interesting, just as worth knowing. Though a stranger might be more inclined to shake your hand on a business deal or sit next to you on the subway because your face is one of a good, handsome person, it’s not important. The only reason your body is relevant is because it contains who you are. You could lose so much of it without losing what is essential, and I will always be trying to get that part of you, wherever it’s hidden.

Sometimes I imagine myself opening your chest and putting my head inside, getting closer to something which is always just a little bit further under the muscle.

Sometimes I look at you when you aren’t paying attention, and I think my whole face goes slack. I bet I look so ugly in those moments, like when we catch ourselves in the mirror during an unflattering moment we didn’t expect to see. I would remember to keep my posture right if you weren’t so interesting.

Sometimes I can’t look at you at all.

One day, you are going to look in the mirror, and really see yourself. You are going to take stock of every hair on your head, and the overwhelming symmetry of your face, and the long limbs which lead to each delicate extremity. You are going to see this person who is worth every bit of pleasure and luck that this world could possibly offer, whose refined outsides cannot begin to reflect the well-built person inside. You will see that you are so much more this world expects of you or needs you to be, that you are good in a way we imagine takes some kind of serious effort but just comes naturally to the lucky ones — the ones like you. You will see that you are this person, that you deserve everything you’ve ever thought was just out of your reach.

And then, you will leave me.

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