Friday, June 26, 2009

Familiar Strangers

At first it seems that every person you see is a person you know.

Though on a second look, the rhinoceros-nosed girl bubbling through a stream of slick Manhattanites isn’t the freshman year roommate of a once best friend, so you stand with lips parted and watch her trickle unobstructed into the rapids on Ludlow Street.

And in the porch light of an East Village apartment, the woman in fat-rimmed glasses with her head on a man’s shoulder has got to be the drunken publicist you were introduced to the night before, but within earshot, her lamenting words coagulate into German and you shuffle off from their curious gaze, still searching for her name.

Or alone in someone else’s crowded backstage, somehow in everyone’s way, whether picking at the catering or leaning upon the folding table full of liquor, you nearly wrap your arms around an old friend, whose context you can’t place, but presence rescues you from that nobody discomfort until you realize he’s just a supporting actor from a TV show you sometimes watch, looking somewhat uncertain himself.

So everyone is a stranger - and you let it hurt, contemplating all the cities in all the countries, and then you walk right by that couple you once talked to on a long flight to California, and hear your own name as if uttered behind the shut door of another room, and you turn and laugh and ask, “What are the odds?”