The first time it happens, I’m introduced to a woman who works at the Yale New Haven Hospital. We smile at each other, she begins talking to me and I swear she has the voice of my eighth grade English teacher. It happens another time – this time I’m talking to my friend on Cross Campus and there’s a small smirk on her face as she tells me about her date on Friday. Her voice is broad and unapologetic and it is exactly the same shade as the voice of my old high school friend. After the first two, I notice it more frequently. I’m introduced to my friend’s boyfriend and he tells anecdotes the same way my old family friend would. My poetry teacher talks with the humility of my old physics teacher. My roommate has the same warm demeanour as someone I’m no longer friends with.
I do not want to live in a world where our most precious memories do not communicate with each other. Where one person’s smile does not linger in our minds the same way someone else’s did a long time ago. Where one person’s laugh does not melt into another’s.
I love imagining how many more parallels I’ll get to make by the time I’m 30, by the time I’m 60. Will the knowledge of all the people I’ve known and loved stay with me until then? I suppose in a hypothetical sense I would like to write out the names of all the people I’ve known and loved and furiously fill in the lines in between, connecting all the people who always knew the right thing to say, all the people who have confused me and enraged me, all the people who I still haven’t finished dreaming about.
I use these parallels to remind myself of people far away from me. Since high school, I’ve realized how difficult it is to emotionally tend to relationships and friendships with people you’re no longer physically with. Life propels us head-first into a new world and it becomes more important to be present in these new moments. So I’ll find it to be a source of great joy to be talking to a new friend and realize half-way through the conversation that I am reliving an old conversation with my former piano teacher. I’ll remember how our piano lessons would easily devolve into light-hearted small talk, suddenly punctuated by a deep reflection on the way music has changed our lives.
We can also use these parallels to remind ourselves of people we’re infinitely far from, people we’ll never physically be with again. Last February, my friend told me that the way I talked reminded her of someone in her life who had passed away; she felt like she had been given a chance to relive her old friendship through me. Since that moment, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the ways we communicate with people we’re no longer physically with; how these parallels can comfort and guide us through loss.
And so when we feel unbelievably disconnected from the world around us, let us try to look harder. Because I’d like to think we live in a world with infinite reminders of people we know and love. Maybe you will see a bright orange leaf fall from a tree onto someone’s head and they will laugh when they take it out of their hair. Or someone’s neck will crane to look, really look, at the sunset. A street musician will tap his foot to the beat of a familiar melody. There will always be someone singing, somewhere.
KIRAN MASROOR is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.