Sometimes I wonder how people, who only have been a part of my life for the briefest, time leave a lasting impact on me for years afterward. Their presence, however fleeting, has made enough impact on me to remember them years later. My presence, on the other hand, might not have made any difference or impression at all.
I tend to think of brief romances or flings at first. Most of them were never consummated - brief sparks of attraction, if that, they pop up in my head from time to time and I wonder why I am thinking about them at all. Like there was this one guy shortly after I broke up with my long-term ex-boyfriend who should have not been very memorable at all but, yet, whose face I remember to the smallest detail.
I met him during a girls' weekend to the Jersey Shore a couple of years ago at an almost empty night club my girls and I pretty much took over that night. He was sitting by himself, his contemplative gaze directly towards his beer when we walked into the club. I noticed him eye me up and down as I made my way to the bar to order my first drink and I could feel his occasional glances in my direction throughout the next hour.
I was feeling ballsy and empowered that night, fresh from a breakup and fiercely ready to face the single life, so I walked up to the guy and introduced myself to him. We spent the rest of the night talking and dancing and went down to the beach around 5am to watch the sunrise, all the while in a pleasant inebriated haze.
He was cute but stupid - I could tell that his intelligence was significantly below mine even as I continued to lose myself in a parade of drinks that made it into my system that night. But he was damn cute and I was certainly not looking to discuss quantum physics as I watched the sun rise at the horizon that morning.
Our light courtship carried over into that fall, as he did not live too far away from me but our physical contact never carried over beyond making out. I wanted absolutely nothing from that guy but to enjoy his cuteness as we bar hopped from one Philly bar to another all throughout that fall season.
"We should have had sex last night," he sounded hopeful as he said that to me over the phone one Saturday morning after another night spent in the bliss of Southern Comfort and strobe lights. He said that and I thought, "That's it. I'm done with him. I can't." and, just like that, I completely stopped talking to him.
It was weird the way I ended things because after that I did make a few drunk late night phone calls to him that were spread over the period of several months - we talked briefly every time, and for some time after that he did try to contact me on his own terms but I would never answer. I finally ended up deleting his number all together. The possibility of getting intimate with him was a strange turn off for me, despite his extreme cuteness.
I don't even know why I remember this guy as I felt so disengaged from him, emotionally and physically. There was nothing beyond his looks - no depth, no warmth, no connection and I was mean to him because I didn't think he was smart enough to have his feelings hurt by me. But it's safe to say that he somewhat cared and it's safe to say that I was somewhat of a bitch to him back then.
But why does it matter now, years later?
When I was sixteen, I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye for the very first time and getting captivated by what Holden Caulfield had said in the very concluding chapter of the book: "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody." I feel like those might have been the most profound words I have ever read. I don't even know why Holden's sentiment is any sort of logical, but sometimes I feel just like J.D. Salinger described Holden to feel in those final few moments of the book.
I feel like that from time to time, about people who didn't really matter to me or people who I only met for a few moments at some random party. I feel like that about friends of ex-boyfriends whom I have only met once or twice and cute guys at bars with whom I only have had the most superficial word exchanges. I feel like that about kind strangers who give up their seats to the elderly on the buses and sassy women at the DMV who renew my driver's license, receptionists and random people's babies.
At some very inner, subconscious level, I kind of... care about all of them. And, bizarrely enough, I still miss all of them too.