When I first saw you on the bus I took it for granted that I would see you again. That first day, I imagined that you lived by the stop before me and that you worked somewhere after my drop-off spot. You wore blue slacks or pants, office clothes of some kind topped with a long-sleeved knit plaid-like button-up shirt. I imagined, during our short-shared ride, that you worked in a casual office due to your style of dress. From that I took that you worked in a creative field of some sort; after all, certain rote types must always wear suits and ties and dress shoes. The next day, I noticed that you wore sneakers that looked a little worn but clean. I imagined those sneakers walking down the hall to ask my neighbors if they wouldn’t mind turning down the music. After all, it was 3 am, and a weekday at that. They had never listened to me.
The day after that, your eyes hid behind wide sunglasses, and I wondered what type of night you’d had. I wanted to believe that maybe the neighbors down my hall kept you up again, but the tightness of your jaw betrayed origins of sadness. I looked away, out of the window, glancing toward a park. A gathering of homeless people appeared to be trading or sharing items.
The following day, I didn’t bother to look for you and your sneakers and the tenseness in your neck. Instead I wondered what I did to make your jowls clench. Perhaps I asked or demanded, rather, that instead of walking those sneakers into work that you walk them alongside me. My static self and its negativity must have grated on you. After each fight I wanted to love you less.
I missed you in sadness and silence, knowing that it must be me, and missed you in spite of seeing your shoes down the aisle. When I was younger and viewed music and lyrics as my religion I listened to the saddest songs in the sky to amp up myself and explain the world I couldn’t control. The things and people that happened which I hated and had to live with or try to forget. I don’t remember the song or the actual lyric but do recall that it said something like the reason why we miss someone although we’re with them is because we can envision a life without them. I wish I knew the actual prettier lyric, but the message transcends the medium.
The weekend passed and I eagerly adjusted my scarf while getting on the bus, ready to do something brave like sit behind you or even next to you. You weren’t, not the next day or the rest of the week, and I wondered what had happened those several days. I felt an inexplicable sadness at your disappearance and disappointment at my inaction and projection and self. Maybe it wasn’t me but I knew it was someone like me.