I remember the first day I saw you. I was not impressed at all. You pushed past me in your rush to get onto the bus. I was wearing a gorgeous pair of stilettos impossible to walk in because I woke up in a bad mood and wanted to cheer myself up by wearing beautiful shoes. Yes I do that. I know you would tell me it is crazy, but when I am in a sulky mood, I wear my favourite stilettos for work. By the end of the day I can hardly walk.
But that first day I saw you….after you pushed past me you slumped down into a seat and slept for most of the journey home. You did not even notice me giving you a contemptuous glance as I walked past you and settled down in a seat right at the back of the bus. I thought you were an arrogant twit.
By the end of that bus journey I had softened slightly towards you. You were drooling against the window you know. A few of us fellow passengers smiled at each other as we heard you snoring. It was obvious you were exhausted. That gave me a reason to overlook you for not paying attention to who was around you when you were rushing along for the bus.
The reason I slipped that flirty note with my phone number into your pocket….I am not sure. I guess I wanted to take a chance. I was so bored of everything in my life being the same. I wanted something new. I just had no idea that it would be you.
I am so glad that you texted me later than night. That first night was such a rush. You were so curious to know who I was. But I was shy. I didn’t want to share any personal information with you. I wanted just to chat about music, food, movies and books.
We found a lot to talk about that night. I loved your sense of humour, the way you teased me. I was smiling to myself all night long as our flurry of texts continued – ping ping ping – went my mobile. Eventually we both had to say good night because it was getting late. When I boarded the 157 bus the following morning, I saw you sitting there with your Starbucks grinning. You had no idea it was me. All the way down Louisiana Boulevard I was gazing over at you and wondering if you were smiling because of our messages the night before. You jumped off near the Marriot and I wondered where you were headed. If you had stayed on the bus, you would have seen me leave at Constitution Avenue. I work in a law firm there. Not that I have ever told you that – because we never share too much personal information.
For the past six months the highlight of every day is being on the same bus as you. Sometimes we miss each other. Those days I feel lonely. But when I see you, I feel aglow after the email I read from you the night before and I always wonder whether you are reading my reply to you. Is that why you look so happy?
I keep on wishing I had the courage to greet you face to face, to tell you that it is me – that I am the stranger that you have this secret relationship with. But I don’t know what you would think of me. Would I be a disappointment to you? You never notice me, the real me, when we are fellow passengers. You are always so busy looking at your phone since we started to message each other. Do you realize we have had text conversations when I was sitting less than three metres away from you?
Seeing you several times a week is both joy and torture. I am so scared to lose what we have. I am so afraid of rejection. Seeing your smile has become one of the most meaningful parts of the day. Is it me who is making you happy? Am I deceiving myself? If you knew who I really was, would you drop me in an instant? Would you see me and brush me off as that stupid blonde in the stilettos?
How long are we going to go on like this for? The weeks pass by, the seasons change and we seem to be hooked on each other. Two people sending each other messages even though we have never met in real life….although I know who you are, and I often sit close to you, as close as I dare, knowing that you are my secret friend. It’s just strange because you don’t know it’s me.
You told me I am your secret soul mate, even though you don’t know who I am. But you do know everything about my heart. You unzipped me and claimed me as yours. You gave me the name Miss Anne Onimous. You told me to call you Mystery Guy. We ended up being Guy and Annie. It was cute. It was cute until that day I decided to leave the bus at your stop. I knew it was wrong. I knew it. I should never have done it. I was walking a few metres behind you pretending to talk on my phone. You picked up a breakfast muffaletta from Jason’s Deli. You were eating it while you walked up to your offices. It felt so wrong. I knew I was invading your privacy. I was just so profoundly curious to know where you worked. Now I know.
When you told me that everyone calls your boss Lord Farquaad and you told me all about the Christmas party with your colleagues and what you could remember of your drunken antics, it unnerved me that I knew exactly where you worked. What is even worse is that I looked at the website for the company and saw your real name, Ross Hendrey, against your photograph, and now I know you work as a Financial Advisor. Why did you tell me in you emails you were a builder? Was that just for security reasons? I can understand if it was. I am not really a hair dresser. I am a Paralegal. I was inspired by Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. You would probably roll your eyes if I told you that. You roll your eyes quite a lot you know.
Only….it’s so much fun being Guy and Annie. You seem so happy. What we are doing seems safe. I am so sorry I followed you to work that day. I know you don’t even realize, but I have felt terrible ever since. I am not a creepy stalker. I just love our secret friendship. I love you. The desire to know more about you had built up and I made a rash and foolish choice to leave the bus at the same time as you. I regret what I did. But I am so afraid now. I am so afraid because I should have told you months ago that I know who you are.
Once I knew your name it was easy to find your Facebook page – you are probably the world’s worst saxophone player – but I love you for it. Sometimes at night when I cannot sleep, I listen to the videos you have posted on your Facebook page of you playing the saxophone. I know things we agreed we would not share with each other – your birthday, the names of your siblings, I know that you have a dog called “Sergeant Pepper”. Things you never told me about yourself. I know which high school and which college you went to. I know things I should not know.
Now I feel terrible. It’s like being trapped in a limbo that I can never escape. We are doomed to be perpetual strangers because I can never introduce myself to you now. I am terrified you will hate me for knowing too much about you, more than you shared with me. Terrified.
You tell me you are in love with me, but how will you feel if you know that one day I followed you to work and that stupid mistake allowed me to discover your real name and learn all sorts of things about you online? I knew it was wrong. I was just fascinated by you. But I went too far, and now I have ruined any possibility of you and I being real friends and not just secret friends – which I am so sad about. My heart tells me that being secret friends is just as wrong. It’s just as wrong because you are no longer a secret to me, only you don’t know that. That’s not fair for you. I need to come clean. I need to tell you, but I am so terrified to lose you.
This curse – this curse of being in love with a stranger – when I know who you are and I share a secret friendship with you that seems to be as important to you as it is to me. You seem to be happier than before we started sharing messages. I am struggling – I am in sublime joy because everything I know about you makes me love you more, yet I am so upset because I know too much about you that you did not share with me. You don’t even know that I am your fellow passenger several times a week.
I am trapped – trapped in a love that can never be. I don’t want to lose our friendship. I don’t want to break your heart. But now I a terrified that you will be angry when I tell you what an idiot I have been.
Dear Fellow Passenger….I love you…and if it helps in anyway….Anne Onimous is really Joanna – how I wish I could tell you that.