The glass wall

March 9, 2013
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‘You went too far yesterday’, says Dan. We are in a café in the heart of Utrecht; the name of the café doesn’t matter, there are many in this city.

The ‘’yesterday’’ Dan is talking about is what could have been an enjoyable evening for the others if I hadn’t slapped Rens at some point and walked out in silence.
‘They were getting icky, yes, but that’s no reason to go slapping people, right?’ is the reproach.

I stir my coffee impassively, though the milk and sugar have already dissolved. No one would have understood the reason for my sudden reaction. In fact, my problem is not so much with Rens and Lisa, who have been dating for some time, as it is with the whole world. Everywhere I look I see people who don’t have to worry about someone else’s undivided attention. Who each have someone who will get worried when there hasn’t been any contact for a month. Someone who is honestly interested in them. People for whom all of this seems to speak for itself. Seeing Rens and Lisa together had been too much; the slap was a product of endlessly pent-up frustration. After that I had to leave; The ambiance was ruined after all.

In the introduction week a group of students invited me to come and sit at their table . They had asked my name, where I was from, how I felt about my first year. One of them, Lisa, told me that they had been friends since middle school , as if she wanted to say that I would never really belong to their group. This is true to some extent. They invite me for evenings out, but I never really feel like I can entrust them with my wishes and insecurities like they do among each other other. They are my only anchor in this confusing world, but then a glass wall exists between me and them as well.

Dan glances at his wristwatch. ‘’S***, it’s a quarter to. ‘’ I gaze at him, not understanding. ‘’I’ve got to work at three.’’

‘Ok’ I say.
‘Hey Sam… I have the impression that something’s been bothering you for a long time. Call me if you want to talk about it. I’m a bit worried, to be honest. ‘ This offer surprises me, but before I can respond Dan turns and disappears through the door.
Long after Dan has gone his words echo inside my head. How strange, I think, that the most loud- mouthed of the bunch seeks me out to more or less tell me that I’m not just a stray autumn leaf in a sea of flowers. Preceded by an appropriate reprimand, but still.
Suddenly I feel a tap on my shoulder. ‘Sir, we’re closing up’ , announces a slightly irritated waitress, with the emphasis on ‘’closing’’. It takes a few seconds for me to realize that I must have been sitting here for hours; the setting sun heralds the start of the evening.

Once outside I feel, for the first time in ages, a genuine smile creeping up to my lips.

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