I ran into her in the bathroom today, on my third day of in-person university. I’d never seen beyond her shoulders before, never seen her in three dimensions. Our dynamic was completely different. I disliked her a lot less. And it was just about five minutes, in an in-person bathroom, on my way to in-person lunch.
It made me wonder how many potential relationships we’ve all missed because people are just less appealing on zoom. How many crushes we haven’t had that we would have died over otherwise. How different would it have been if we’d actually met in person? Would I have been more or less eager to impress them? Would he have liked me better or worse? How long would it have taken for the list of arbitrary traits I’d assigned her face to fall short next to her actual personality? Such fantasies grow where there is little reality to refute them. Five minutes in an in-person bathroom can sometimes be enough.
What would my life be like today if I’d always gone to in-person university? Who would be my friends? What subjects would be my favorite? What relationship would I have with the people in my old high school? How would I feel about my past? And my future?
It’s clear to me that I will never know the answers to these questions. But I know it would have all been different. If just about five minutes in an in-person bathroom did that to us, I struggle to imagine what half a year in an in-person classroom might have done.
It makes me wonder about everything that could have happened in the past six months. And here’s the thing: it doesn’t make me sad. It makes me hopeful. There’s a lot that can happen in six more.