There are few people in my immediate social ecosystem I truly dislike.
I left one such person behind when I moved from Romania a few years back, and during that time, whatever negative feelings I’d had for them eventually faded into this colourless mix of mostly indifferent emotions. And I suddenly found myself in a good place socially speaking, no energy-draining animosities in the air. And it felt right.
Now, don’t think that I’ve gone out of my way to mess up my newly discovered universe of peace and sympathy, as I tend to mess up all good things in my life. This time, I most definitely did nothing wrong. Or not on purpose, anyway. And nonetheless, my disliking-people-is-so-paseé mantra is now itself a thing of the past.
Because these days, I’ve got someone new to dislike.
I’m not proud of it. And no, I’m not going to badmouth them on the interwebs or publish their Twitter handle for you equally spiteful people to poke fun at out of some deranged online solidarity. In fact, I haven’t and will not do anything about my animosity. I won’t be voicing my negative feelings towards them, I won’t be sending bad karma their way, I won’t be feverishly praying for the day of retribution. I’ll repress my emotions, like the responsible, perpetually unsatisfied adult I’ve grown into.
The other day I ran into this person in the street.
When someone’s mean to you, my Grandma used to say, just look at them. Look at them real close, and picture them smiling. You’ll realise they’re good people after all. Just good people having a bad day.
From a distance, I tried to imagine them smiling.
It didn’t really work, it was cold and getting dark and people were sliding in and out of the layers of air between us, and a smile would be nothing but a tiny horizontal line from where I was standing anyway.
It pains me that I’ve allowed a human being to make me not like them so much. It’s not a fading feeling either, or not yet anyway. It’s strong. You’d think you could squeeze it out of me and pour it in a cup, a thick, poisonous looking juice.
I gave up picturing smiles and walked into a nearby grocery store. I took my glove off to squeeze a mango, its skin stamped with the name of a country V and I were looking at visiting just the other week. I smiled. I settled on a baguette, pears and two bunches of daffodil buds. The clerk wrapped the flowers in Christmas themed paper. Too keep them warm until you get home, she said, and we smiled. I didn’t even have to imagine it, like Grandma had said. Some people, you could tell they were good without any tricks. I walked home and put the daffodils in a vase on the dressing table.
Someone once told me yellow is the colour of courage.
When I got back from work last night, none of the buds had opened yet and I worried they’d died. I cooked us dinner, did my accounting, read a little. As I was getting ready for bed some hours later, I noticed two of the flowers had opened. And not just a little, but fully bloomed and yelling their yellows like war cries. Had I been paying more attention, I’d have heard the petals part, I just knew it, and the thought that I’d missed it made me unbearably sad.
I suspect they’re not just having a bad day, this new person in my life. A bad day doesn’t do that to you, I wouldn’t think. They might be having a bad few days though, a bad few months, a year. A bad slice of life, and that might explain them being the way they are. I wish I knew what to do with this revelation, but somehow, even after all these years of playing the people game, it feels like the rules are changing all the time.
I’m off to hug someone now. They tend to smile when you do that.