How to Fall in Love (With the Stranger Behind the Smile)

Get on a train in the dead of the night, going to a place you now call ‘home’. Look as confused as you feel, hearing a language that from a half a mile away sounds like yours, but manages to make you feel far more foreign than you’ve ever done before. Catch a smile out of the corner of your eye and tell yourself that you could fall in love with it, maybe even the stranger behind it (because you still do that, sometimes). Have a conversation somewhere in between everything and nothing and say goodbye knowing that you’ll probably, definitely never see that smile again. Think about it once or twice, or maybe eight times, and wonder how you got here and what you’re doing and where you’re going. Wake up and go to a job you think you might love and come home and do it all over again. Think about that stranger and his smile again while you drink and laugh with some new found friends. Think about the old friends and wonder if they’re changing as much as you are. And on a morning, when you least expect it, look up to find that stranger-behind-the-smile sitting there and wonder if it’s coincidence or maybe even fate. Tell yourself it’s nothing, and he’s nothing, and this will only ever become something you will regret and know that you’re willing to make the same mistake all over again (because you’ll never really learn that when a guy breaks your heart it shrinks a little bit more). Meet that stranger again, and suddenly he’s no longer a stranger and you know there’s something but you’re not sure what it is and you hope that’s it’s more and you hope that it’s less and you wonder if you’re willing to have your heart broken again (for the nth time, because it’s happened so often you’ve decided to lose count). And name all the names that you swore to forget and wonder if he’ll become just another name on that list. Think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and wonder if he’s ever going to become something more than just the guy you hope you’ll see this morning and this afternoon and maybe this evening. Remember what hope does to you, how it breaks you when you hold on to it too tight and think that maybe just maybe you ought to give up completely but know that you never will because you’ll always be the romantic at heart. The hopeless one who is still full of hope.  And fall in love with his smile a little bit more every time you see him, and live for the moments you put that smile on his face and wonder if he thinks about you or your smile as much as you do about him. Do what you always do and make it plain (because you’ve never really seen the point in playing coy) and hope that one day (someday soon) he’ll respond in kind. And feel your heart break when he tells you that he’s never going to be yours because he already belongs to someone else but still… but still, you’re in love with a smile. You’ll always be in love with a smile.


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