The Girl Passing By Took a Picture



The other day I held my cousin's 3-week-old baby in my arms, I guess I've never really thought about how brand new we all start out. A look of confusion and awe on her face, she hardly knew how to take things in- all this somethingness out of nothingness. Watching this unfold, you begin to remember what it's like to stare at the world, completely unaware of yourself as a being, just a witness.

For her, existence is simply made up of strange new sensations and goings on around her, and she's just there, seeing it. Funny thing is, when we grow up none of this changes, we're the ones that change. We give ourselves a role in what's happening, we learn how to edit our instincts, to not feel so enamored with it all. We ignore the sensations, quiet the impulses, and cast our eyes down because staring becomes "rude" or "weird."

And so I'm sitting in a café, and a guy walks in whom I find immediately attractive; and I know because my palms are sweating (more than usual) and my face is tingling and my heart is beating faster. Come to think of it, my whole body feels primed and ready to run away. But I don't run away, because I'm half-way through my coffee and I haven't paid and I'm a grown human who knows better, kinda. So, naturally, I run away mentally and feign indifference instead.

For some reason, what makes the most immediate sense is to appear un-phased, "cool" and collected, and completely absorbed in something else, anything else than him,"hmm look at these light fixtures, these are interesting, never seen a lightbulb before."

Meanwhile, I'm hoping he'll do the exact opposite, that he'll look over, that his expression will tell me everything I want in one glance, and that he'll have the courage not to look away. My own face, at this point, is betraying me, resembling something almost angry rather than what I'd hope to be mysteriously beautiful, or interesting, or at the very least, approachable. And I think, "Where did I learn this? This shy, hostile, insecure response, where did it come from? Cause I'd like to return it."

I'm back home now, alone in my room, days later, writing this, and I realize the root of the problem; and it's much bigger than hiding my googley eyes for some guy. It lies somewhere hidden in how I've learned to respond to the world around me. It goes way back, to some point where I learned to stifle my inner urges, where indifference became more than a mask I wore to protect my true feelings, it became the goal- to not feel.

Even now, as I'm going through my life, facing new experiences everyday, I can't seem to conceive of why I don't know exactly what to do all the time. It would all be so much simpler if there were no "me." Cause' then the guy could just walk into the café, looking beautiful, and a girl could notice him, and she could smile, and he could see, and he could smile back, and the day could go on, and the world could go round. But wait, that's the way things actually are, I've just learned to give it all a story, to own that role as the girl, to dissect what happens and have opinions and feelings and insecurities about it all.

Truth is, deep down, we're all newborn everyday, just checking everything out, seeing what's happening. The story we give to everything can be fun sometimes, or scary, or troubling, or any number of emotions we prescribe to it; but that's just it, it's a story.