We all know each other. We can pick out one of our own without even trying. Sure, other people notice us, but it's not the same when you're on the outside looking in. The things they look for are good signs, things that we use to pick each other out of a crowd. We sit alone at meals. We wander campus alone. We spend most of our time in our rooms. But even taken together, these things can't truly mark one of us. There are those who eat alone because they have odd schedules, or enjoy studying at meals. Or those who just enjoy taking walks alone and letting nature speak through the birds and the wind. Or spend all their time at the computer talking to friends back home.
But that's not us. None of those things are us. We do all those things, of course, and we can often pass ourselves off as normal people. But there is a deeper cause for us. You see, we do all those things simply because we have no friends.
It's not that I've never attempted to get close to somebody. I'm sure all of us have at some point. So many of the normal people seem so happy that we all wonder at some point if maybe we're doing something wrong. And we let somebody get close.
But never again.
Oh sure, people know us. Some people may even enjoy our company. But there's really no friendship to speak of. We still eat alone at meals, nodding and smiling at the ones who actually acknowledge knowing us. We sit at our computers, instant messenger list full of active buddies but no conversations going. And so life goes; we wander through our own solitude, ghosts among the crowds of people, just watching and smiling and pretending to be normal.
After all, why would we want to spend time with somebody else like us? What would we do? What would we talk about? We both know basically what the other is thinking because we're thinking the exact same thing. "Why am I doing this? When is he going to leave? Can't he see I just want to be left alone?" There's miles of emotional distance there that neither of us is going to make the attempt to cross. It has to be somebody else who makes that trek, because we really have no desire to come close to anybody.
Of course, the ideal always seems to be attached to one of your own kind; whether this is human nature or something else is anybody's guess. But when the notion forms in the head, it tends to take the shape of a combination of likes. So I'll admit to trying to attach to another person like me. The only thing I wanted was a friend, and I believe that she felt the same way. We had lived our lives in solitude to that point and were both willing to try and create an actual friendship with another human being.
So we both put forth the effort. We talked to each other. We did things together. We tried to bridge the gap that we had both worked so many years to establish and maintain. For a time, it worked. We met in the middle ground and honestly enjoyed the other's company. It was a novel experience for both of us, this pleasure we got out of spending time with a separate intelligence.
It always amused me, seeing the normal people try to cross that expanse of emotional wasteland. They're used to meeting halfway with somebody else who also wants to get close. But that's not us. We don't get close. So actually letting her in and trying to get close to her in return was incredibly frightening; somebody would actually get close to me. I'm not talking about physical proximity here. I'm talking about letting somebody get close to where I keep myself. In retrospect, I realize that would be catastrophic. I would probably cease to exist.
Well, I guess I enjoyed it while it lasted. It was a change. But it never really because natural to me. Or her. At least, I hope it didn't become natural to her, because that would have been the worst possible thing that could have happened. That would mean that she actually became invested in the friendship and our eventual drift apart would have been torture. I know, you see, because she was one of us, and we always know exactly what others like us feel because we feel the same thing. So if she was actually attached to me during that time, our return to casual indifference would be tantamount to tearing her beating heart from her chest. I like to believe that she wasn't.
You see, the friendship wasn't an honest one. We all learn to be good actors to keep people from feeling sorry for us. The friendship was just that; neither of us actually left our solitary grounds to meet the other and form a connection. We kept ourselves hidden away, letting an automaton do the meeting for us. Maybe it was an impossible endeavor from the start. Maybe the eventual halt to to returned phone calls or the stop to searching for each other in a crowd was inevitable. Maybe people like us just can't make lasting friends. Maybe we're cursed to live a life of casual smiles and cursory acknowledgements. Maybe I just invested too much in that friendship.