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Dear Stranger,

I have thought long and hard about why it is that I find falling in love with you so easy. This question has kept me up at night and quite frankly consumed much more time than I am comfortable with disclosing, so in the spirit of closure and giving myself some peace of mind, I am writing to you with a list of all the reasons I have come up with. This may seem pointless to you. I assure you it is not. First, however, I must give some background because while ambiguity is great and all, not understanding a love letter completely maybe even worse than writing a cheesy one.

I have lived many romances. Too many, if I may say so myself. First, there are the ones that lasted years, the ones my Mother swore over and over again would be my last. These are the ones people get tattoos for. And then, then there are the ones that lasted seconds, eye contact between the both of us when we are waiting at the traffic light.

It happens like this: the light is red, the cars are obediently waiting, all lined up, and the radio starts to play an extraordinary song – “The Immortals” by Kings of Leon – and it is your favorite song. You are amazed by the serendipity of this world and you catch yourself smiling. How, among all the possible songs in the world, did your favorite play on that radio station, at that particular moment?

It is like life has recognized your fine taste in music and has decided to reward you for it. And then, you look sideways and, in the car next to you, there is someone smiling at you. It is swift eye contact, a smile exchanged, it can something be incredibly intense or as superficial as a barbie doll’s, but you always smile back.

These visceral moments. These romances. These are the ones that are and always will be, my favorites. Strangers. My obsession with you, my Stranger, has been long-running and may never see an end; but after many nights of restless sleep and obsessive note-taking, I feel that I have gotten a further understanding of why I am so painfully, fiercely, overwhelmingly in love with you. Here it is.

Reason Number 1: There is nothing more romantic than being a complete Stranger to someone. Alternatively, there is nothing more mysterious than being a complete Stranger to someone. There is also nothing more romantic than mystery. That sheer amusement of them not knowing who you are at 3 AM. Of them not knowing how you like your coffee – or even if you prefer iced tea. Not knowing about the scar behind your left thigh and that the story it comes with is way more embarrassing than tragic. Not knowing about the nights you’ve wasted rewatching “The Big Sick” over and over again or even about the acute, and quite frankly absurd, hate that you harbor for pickles. This possibility of embodying an enigma is, in my opinion, also one of the most romantic things there are.

This, of course, also works both ways. The desire that we feel stirring up inside of us, the insatiable need to know all about their dreams and desires, is because they present us with a mystery that we want to figure out. We want to get to know them through hour-long conversations. We want to know what’s beneath their lopsided smile and luscious head of hair. For a lack of a more poetic simile, like when peeling an onion, we want to peel off a Stranger’s layers. We would like to know them for who they are, but the thing is we will more than likely never get a chance to find out. That’s the catch, and that is why we want them so much more; their impossibility.

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Reason Number 2: You deeply crave to be someone else. When you are a Stranger to someone, there exists a vast territory to explore, but you are only able to see within the first hundred yards. When you are a Stranger, there is not much material to pick apart, to analyze. Nothing exceeds the exterior plane, almost like any kind of depth would just succeed at breaking the magic you have cast around yourself. When you are a Stranger to someone, the wise quote by Kurt Vonnegut suddenly makes sense, and we become exactly what we pretend to be. In the end, no one is going to take off your mask because no one will even notice you are wearing one. It is by being a Stranger that we end up acting according to inconstancy and occasions and chaos. We jump into uncertain opportunities that aren’t always safe, but it doesn’t matter because we never wait until the end to see what happens. It is living the unpredictable, and almost hearing Robbie Williams’ voice whispering ‘Carpe Diem’ in your ears and actually deciding to seize the day.

Reason Number 3: You have a vast imagination. This one is especially true for me because imagining peoples’ lives is a great way to kill time when on the 2 train on the subway ride home. For example, on Thursday when I saw you sitting against the window I envisioned a reckless guy, probably from Boston, that didn’t like being told what to do and couldn’t help but talk back even when he shouldn’t. In my head, you were someone charismatic and impatient, and loyal. I do not care to know if this is true or not. I would like you to stay this way.

The thing with my imagination is that it seems to be crushed when I think of people I know. It’s tedious. People I’ve met, cannot be anyone I want them to be. I already know that Abby is irritable and Mark likes tennis and Josephine never shuts up about her pet poodle Princess. They are not malleable. On the other hand, with people who I’ve just encountered in the supermarket line or seen on the other side of a crowded bistro, I can perfectly fit them into the persona I have in my mind, and it doesn’t matter how radical or far-fetched it is because there exists such space between them and me that there is no limit. However, this world-building of sorts is not a light hobby. In order for someone to craft identities so meticulously and also love these Strangers as much as I do, time and dedication are required.

Reason Number 4: You are very bored with your life and may also be unhappy with the people around you. This is not to be confused with me saying you have some deep-seated discontent with your whole life at the moment, this just means that those who you interact with have possibly not satisfied your ever-expanding imagination (mentioned in Reason Number 3).

It must be noted that time spent on falling in love – which is very time-consuming by itself – and conceiving the stories of complete Strangers, inevitably takes time away from thinking about your acquaintances and loved ones. Whoever decides to dedicate themselves to the art of falling in love with Strangers, for whichever reason it may be, must beware of the consequences. Falling in love with Strangers can bring unprecedented problems in the realm of tangible relationships. Your friends will not understand that Strangers, too, can be beloved and cherished with the same passion one does a husband or a wife. My advice, ignore them.

Reason Number 5: You hate disappointment. In my opinion, it is by getting to know someone that everything goes to waste. The upside of falling in love with a Stranger is that you completely eliminate the risk of getting your heart broken or bruised. In a way, it is easier to want what you can’t have. Complete Strangers can be adored and revered and chalked up to perfection because that’s all they are. Strangers. Oh, the pros of becoming infatuated from afar. When you get to know someone, the charming words that once sounded effervescent and unique now sound like cheap quotes and nothing more. The electrifying touch, that once made you ignore your mother’s voice ringing in your head telling you not to speak or touch Strangers, now is just a simple caress. And all the quirks that once seemed oddly lovely, like the way he used to eat olives and right after, take a sip of his apple juice, now are annoying and obnoxious. It is by getting to know someone that you realize that everything is a matter of time.

And here ends the theory. We fall out of love for the same reasons we once fell in.

On some days I get really depressed for these reasons. For knowing that love is just an illusion, a showcase where the first impression is the one that with time turns out to be what it wasn’t, or better even, what it didn’t seem to be. And also nothing ends in a poetic way. People have this stupid habit of wanting to turn everything into poetry. And all the tears were never, not even for a second, poetry worthy. They were just wet.

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