as fast as cats

I’ve been finding myself talking more and more to strangers everyday. Little stolen moments, here and there, in a great assortment of places and times. Funny is that I remember, as a child, hating when my mom did this exact same thing. She would start random small talks with people, conversations with someone on the bus stop or a saleswoman at the store and I would just grit my teeth hard, mad at her intrusion. I couldn’t understand why she did this, why she had the need to engage with people that she didn’t know and to provide, most of time, that idle chit-chat to fill the silence. I was young and just found it so awkward that it made me close my fists tight. I guess I just didn’t see her point, wasn’t able too see past it, because – to me – silence wasn’t bad or weird, silence was in fact comforting and familiar and, in my conception, respectful.

But now I seem to grasp the concept better, to understand my mother’s reasons. Or not. Maybe now I am better at expressing my emotions or have grown into different desires and goals. All I know is that, as an adult person, in the rush of my lunch hour, I feel oddly compelled to initiate a conversation with the girl that is now serving coffees at the window of the restaurant. As she pours mine, it is just the two of us, and she smiles as I make my order. And it is not because she smiles, it is just something that erupts inside me, as I feel an unstoppable force open my mouth and expel the words out of it.

However, I feel like this time, I’m not doing this because of my usual ego issues – unlike the common reason for all people that share the talkative personality, I don’t feel the need to charm her with words in any way, or coerce her into admiration, nor a smile, to reassure myself that I am still good and cool. I also know, deep down, that I’m not also doing this only because I want to be polite or nice, or because I feel like owe this girl – chubby and wonderful in her red apron – the faux-attention that people pretend to pay in others to feel better, or as a snob repayment for the service she is providing. I wouldn’t do this, for people who do are terribly vile.

I guess I am not only compelled to speak to her because she seems lonely. Actually she just seems fine without my chat, more tired than other people, but fine, working, in her own peace of mind. Not even bored, most definitely not lonely; in fact, it seems that I feel this sudden desire to address her surge because I am the one that feels lonely. I am the one alone – me, in my fast lunch hour (oh, modern times, oh, fast times!) that rushes by, where I gulped down, sitting in a hard plastic table, across a stranger that couldn’t even dignify me or acknowledge my presence with a look on the eyes.

And it is now that I understand my mom very well. Just like her, I crave the human contact that lacks in other parts of my life, I crave the reassurance that I am still there, alive, that people notice me. I must feel less invisible, must prove that people can hear me still and not see right through me, like a ghost or a shell of person, colorless. I need to share and receive the attention of others that I seemingly haven’t been receiving for a little while.

Suddenly, I understand my mother and the old ladies on grocery stores and those drunk men at the bars – like me, they just had to express it, couldn’t help it! They just had to say it all to whomever was willing to listen, all in order to prove to themselves that they were still present on the same face of the same earth as others. Like a telephone where the other end has gone silent, they needed proof.

It was just solitude. Not blind old ladies, not boredom, not alcohol. And If all those people were right here again, I’d talk.

I’d hug them all.


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