I’ve decided that I miss talking to people about pointless things. I miss hearing their boring stories about what they didn’t do on the weekend. I miss being told their opinion of a restaurant they went to last night even though I never asked. I miss hearing about their kid’s birthday party, and about how the bus was late again, and about the new pair of shoes they bought on sale.
All of a sudden, it seems like such a luxury that I used to know what so-and-so was going to make for dinner because now it seems impossible that they’ll ever make a point of telling me ever again.
People used to come to my desk and tell me what they were about to buy for lunch. I miss that too.
Like many people, I took a lot of things that used to be normal for granted. I didn’t realize what a privilege it was to see the same people at the bus stop every morning, or stand next to strangers in an elevator, or say ‘have a good weekend’ on Friday at 5pm to people I would see again in three day’s time.
I miss overhearing conversations in a hallway, and noticing when people decided to wear their glasses for once or paint their nails a new colour, and I miss singing ‘happy birthday’ to an embarrassed person in a crowded kitchen, even though that’s one of the things I used to hate.
What I miss is being part of people’s lives and having them be a part of mine. Somehow, gleaning little snippets of life through a tiny square on screen isn’t quite the same thing. It’s like the way I sometimes catch glimpses of my neighbour’s life through the perfectly framed window in the building across from mine. His existence is there, it’s real. But at the same time, it means absolutely nothing to me, just as mine means absolutely nothing to him. We don’t mean anything to each other because we’re constantly passing in and out of the frame, never quite learning the full story of what goes on behind it, always just a tiny bit out of reach.
It turns out the stupid, unimportant details people told me about their lives when we stood next to each other by the coffee machine weren’t stupid or unimportant at all. They were the details that made up the intricate fabrics of their lives which, as it turns out, weren’t boring, or meaningless, or empty. They never were.
So it seems like the joke’s on me. The pointless things weren’t pointless at all: they were precious. And now I miss them, and now it’s too late, and now, maybe, I’ve missed all my future chances of loving the boring, banal details about a person’s life in the way that they always deserved to be loved.