I used to love love. I used to look for a sparkle in a stranger’s eye. I used to imagine I was the protagonist of one of my beloved stories. I can’t recall when that believing ended. I wonder if it hurt. I wonder if it was a slow process, or if it happened all at once. Like a wave building angrily and splashing downward in a destructive force, leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. I wonder if the believing has simply vanished, or if it’s restricted to only believing that I could be a part of the magic.
I saw a girl this weekend. She was like a character of mine come to life. She had blond hair the color of wheatgrass. Her skin was like fresh cream. She leaned against the black wall at the back of the crowded karaoke bar. I saw her out of the corner of my eye, and she was looking at me. Her blue eyes were light, the color of a cloudless and deep periwinkle sky. She was smiling at me and taking me in. Even when I looked at her, at first curiously, she didn’t look away. As I danced, I wondered if she watched me from her perch. Like the steady thump of the music, she remained on that back wall with her eyes on me, and I reveled in the feel of it.
I wonder what would have happened if I had gone up to her. Would she have laughed at me for my dancing? Would she have asked my name? The thought of going up to her didn’t once cross my mind. It’s only now, two nights later as I sit on my velvet couch alone listening to lonely Christmas songs croon out of my TV speaker that I wonder why that is. Is it because I was focused on my sister having a good time for her birthday? Is it because I didn’t know what I’d say? Is it because I feared rejection? And all these questions bubble up in my mind, but the answer to why I didn’t approach that beautiful girl remains out of my grip. Like the sands of time slipping through my fingers, I realize with a bitter and biting regret that life is too short not to take chances. And I start to wonder if, perhaps, magic does still exist. I start to wonder if it’s not the universes’ restrictions, as if I’m an inch short for the roller coaster. No, I start to wonder if, perhaps, I am the one restricting myself. Perhaps I am the one that’s convinced myself I’m not worthy of a fairytale.
I play out the conversion that could have happened. Of course, in the version in my head, I’m much more confident. I start to play with the idea of going to that same bar every Saturday night, taking my place in her spot against the wall, waiting to see if she’ll show. I start to hear the conversation in my head.
“Were you here last Saturday?”
She’ll smile, both mysteriously and with recognition flashing in her blue eyes. “I was waiting for you to come talk to me.”
“A girl has to work up her courage,” I’ll say with an overconfident grin.
“I’m glad you did,” she’ll reply cooly.
“I am too.”
But of course, those are just dreams to dull the feeling of regret. Over time, I’ll start to wonder if maybe I made it up in my head. Perhaps it wasn’t amusement or attraction behind those shining eyes. Perhaps she was making fun of me. Maybe her hair wasn’t the color of wheatgrass. Maybe it was platinum. But, for now, I’ll search for her face among the crowds. I’ll wonder if she’s out and about, breath puffing out in front of her in the cold wintry Atlanta air while I’m alone at home. And I’ll wonder if she thinks of me too. The stranger in the darkened bar. The girl she didn’t approach.