Occasionally, I run into myself. Like the other day, when I was walking home at 4:30 in the morning.
I had a little black umbrella, which had kindly been lent to me because the crisp, quiet night had donned a delicate veil of rain. Delicate, yet I could still hear a faint pitter-patter against the fabric of the umbrella, and with no cars on the road nor wind in the trees, this was the only sound.
In those rare moments when the world is so quiet and so calm, you really see things. I saw how the street lights hung like tiny suns among the leaves of the trees, their posts in shadow and their light turning the rain and the leaves around them into specks and flecks of gold. I saw the windows of the English houses, black and forbidding, one or two alight with figures moving to and fro, so that I felt I was glimpsing a scene from a play of which I knew neither the beginning nor the end. I also saw the moon, a hazy vision choked by clouds, weaving its way across the sky. I walked into the middle of the road and gazed ahead, through the rain and into the gossamer blanket of emptiness that hung all around me, and there I saw myself.
I should have expected it really. There was no one else to run into. Most of the time, life takes you out of yourself and carries you forward on wave upon wave of its own, overpowering substance. You don’t want to break concentration because you might miss something. Introspection is a distraction, but when there’s nothing to be distracted from, when you have no external or internal demands, when the people you love and the people you hate and the people you are indifferent to are not present and, perhaps most importantly, when you take out your earphones, all that is left is you.
So there I was, face to face with myself, feeling a little apprehensive. We don’t always get along, but there are moments when we understand each other, perhaps when we realise that we want the same things. In those moments, I couldn’t ask for better company. Particularly that night, when I was far too tired to deal with a stream of self-criticism; I just smiled to myself.
We walked together along that deserted road in companionable silence.