I go to the GCA every day and follow the 40-minute circuit that leads through meadows and woods. At one point on my walk last Friday afternoon I looked out across a lovely, open field and lost in thought, mouthed the words I love you, an unconscious, impromptu exhalation. It was directed at - not sure what, exactly - perhaps you, or me, or the day, or nothing in particular, or everything at once.
When I looked at the path again I saw that a man who had just joined it from the detour that leads to the river overlook, was making his way towards me. Startled to find that suddenly I was no longer alone, I wondered foolishly if he had observed me mouthing the words.
He was about my age, I think, and he had light brown hair and a beard. It had rained, or was threatening to rain, and he carried a small umbrella, tan and neatly rolled. He took energetic strides and grasped the umbrella in a sure way, as if it were a runner's baton. As we neared one another he smiled at me and I smiled, and then he said hello and I said hello. Intelligent, friendly face. Good clothes, appropriate for a walk though I don't remember what he was wearing. (I wore an apricot turtleneck, zipped-up cream cardigan, grey-green cotton trousers, muddy Merrills - no umbrella.) He looked at me, smiling. The thought formed: he appeals to me. Suddenly I felt very shy. As he neared I averted my gaze, lowering my eyes, and held my breath. We passed, continued in opposite directions, and that was that. I went on with my walk and before long I was back at the parking area at the head of the trail, and in my car.
As I headed out I realized that he had made a strong impression on me. Now I hope I will run into him again. If there is a next time I hope to meet his gaze and if it's sunny maybe I'll say, no umbrella today?
STRANGER! If you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?
Walt Whitman, 1900