June 5, 2017 by Gregory Josephs
To Be Seen Amongst the Unseeing Millions
Ryan hesitated a moment as he felt the cold metal of the knob press against his palm. Beyond the glass door he watched the sky—a perfect, dull, uniform grey—and wondered if he should go back downstairs for a jacket. No, he needed to feel this. He needed to feel something. Bracing against the wind that awaited, he opened the door and stepped out of the cupola into the brisk afternoon.
A fine mist whipped against his face, and he shivered. Back home he’d have thought weather like this was impossible in June. This was summer, wasn’t it? He should’ve been thankful; he hated the heat. This chill though—forty-six degrees on a June afternoon—wasn’t helping his mood. Turning his face upward, he searched the clouds in vain for any sign of the sun.
To the north, the top halves of the skyscrapers in the the Back Bay were engulfed in fog.
At least I’m not the only one suffering this oppressive weather, he thought.
Setting his gaze between The John Hancock and the Prudential, he imagined he could see Peter’s apartment, nestled down there in the South End, somewhere beneath the blanket of green tree-tops. Was he home right now? Was he cozy and warm, wrapped up in a sweater despite the month?
Was Peter alone? Did he think of their lost love, or the missteps that had led them here? Did he think of Ryan at all?
Look away—there’s nothing good that way. Look east—out to the water.
He shifted his gaze from the city toward the harbor. Over the one enormous hill of South Boston, he spied a container ship drifting slowly in toward the blue cranes of the seaport.
There are people down there—people that don’t know my story. People going about their lives. People who have no idea of my pain. This is just heartbreak; it’s nothing special. It happens to everyone, so why am I so—
He’d turned and was facing north again. Peter was out there, probably not at home—probably drinking coffee in that little cafe he loved with someone new. There had been so many boys chomping at his heels. It was going on three months now—how could Ryan expect to be anything but an unpleasant memory. Surely Peter had moved on to something—someone—better.
Ryan shivered as the wind picked up. Three months and here he stood, on top of the world and utterly alone.
If you want to know true loneliness, move to the city, he thought. Move to the city where you can be surrounded by a million people, but no one sees you.
He laughed a little. How long was he expected to carry this torch? He was the one that ended it after all. Why was it so difficult to remember, beneath all this uniform grey, that Peter wasn’t the one? There had been so much dysfunction, suffocation, and accusation. Ending it had been liberating and positive, and right!
But the loneliness.
Which is better? He wondered. To be miserable together, or miserable alone? Misery loves company. . .
His thoughts were interrupted by a buzzing in his pocket. Wary, he pulled out the little red flip phone to see a new message from his roommate Steven:
We’re going out tonight.
Turning his back to the wind in an effort to shield the phone from the precipitation, he let his fingers fly across the number pad in response.
I’m not going out. I’m not ready yet.
You’re not ever going to be ready. You just have to do it. There is life after Peter, idiot!
Ryan laughed in spite of himself.
Maybe, but I’m not ready to live it. I know it was the right thing, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’m just not ready to risk getting hurt again.
Shut the fuck up, it’s been three months. You’re going. No one is asking you to jump right into another relationship. It’s just dancing. We’re just going dancing.
I don’t know Steven.
Tonight. We are going out.
He closed the phone and smiled. There was no arguing with Steven. He reached his hands toward the sky and stretched. Was there really life after Peter?
He was looking north again. Look for something else, he thought.
This was all temporary, he knew; little comfort in the moment, but Steven was right and it was time to move on. He was going to feel love again, and the one was out there somewhere.
Here he stood, on top of the world, and maybe from this vantage point on the roof deck—maybe he could see him. The one was out there, waiting to be seen in a city where it was possible to be surrounded by a million people and not be seen.
Ryan had an idea. He set his gaze to the horizon and turned in a slow circle, a full three-hundred-sixty degrees.
There. Now I’ve seen you—I’ve cast my eyes in every possible direction, and if only for a moment they’ve been pointed toward you. Maybe you can return the favor soon.
With a final shiver, he stepped back inside the cupola and closed the door. He pulled out his phone again and sent Steven a final message.
Alright. Let’s paint the town.
About This Story
If you’ve been following along with my blog over the last few months, you’ll probably notice the format of this post is a little different. The truth is, my recent post on nostalgia has stuck with me, and I wanted to explore it a bit more. As I get closer to publishing my novel and deeper into this blog, I realize there is a growing divide between the characters I’ve written and the man I am today.
I think it’s prudent of me to get back in touch with the feelings I explore in the novel before its launch. I’m going to keep blogging about positivity, silver linings, and my present-day experiences and philosophies, but not today. Today I needed to channel my protagonist Ryan, walk a little in his shoes, and be grateful I can remember my experiences as a twenty-one year old without actually reliving them.
Though this is a work of fiction, I did in fact once stand on that roof deck, look out at the horizon, and slowly spin. I did this more than once, actually, without much prompting; my outlook was always more positive than Ryan’s.
And of course, I found the one, and have never been happier. As it turns out, he was somewhere beyond the horizon then, but a few years later we saw each other among the unseeing millions. Perhaps if you’re alone and searching, you could seek a high place and try the same.
I seem to remember, it really did make me feel better to know he was out there—that my eyes had looked in his direction.
Visiting Ryan’s world today was fun, but I’m grateful I don’t ever have to live it again. As I mentioned last week, there is no better time to be alive than right now.
Thank you Brian, for seeing me! >>++
I’d love to know your thoughts. How have you handled heartbreak? Have you found the one or is he/she still on the horizon? Would you go back to being twenty-one (or younger)? Let me know in the comments.
Thank you as always for reading,