Image: © Kathryn Coppola
Author: Furaha Mujynya
They pass you by in the streets, inhaling and exhaling the same air, for a few seconds… They are stuck in the warm moving car of a crowded subway, following an identical itinerary for a couple of minutes, until one of you steps out of the underground. They visit the same pubs, restaurants, and clubs, sometimes subtly brushing against your back, arm, or hand, as they make their way through the crowd. They shop in the same grocery store, bakery, and drug store, crossing your path as you fail to recognize them as the perpetual faces hovering around your daily life. More than strangers, they partake in the narratives of your unconscious, stealthily appearing in your dreams and quietly disappearing the moment you awake. They undertake minor roles, blending in with all the other nameless figures in the crowd. Sometimes, however, they possess a larger role in the meanderings of your brain – engendering even more frustration as you regain consciousness only to realize you are missing a key component of the story: the Face. Defeated, you start yearning for the revelation of this unknown identity. As if your dream was a vision of another reality or the key towards a magnificent future – rather than an entertaining illusion – you obsess over every little detail you can remember regarding this oddly familiar figure. Reminiscing over the startling affinity and comfort you felt with this stranger, you let your mind wander about the significance hiding behind this sentiment. As the morning gives way to the day, you slowly forget about this anonymous figure hiding in the depths of your subconscious. You go about your life, unaware that, with every step you take, you get closer to encountering the very person that has preoccupied your mind this entire morning. As the fateful meeting finally takes place, you remain unreactive, not even stopping for a second to look back at them. Unable to recognize this missed opportunity, you continue your day in ignorance.
They walk past you on campus, in the city, breathing for a moment the same air as you. They sit across from you during a couple of minutes in the unheated roaming bus, until one of you gets up to leave. They visit the same cafés, festivals, and malls, sometimes slightly brushing against your back, shoulder, or hair, as they get across the crowd. They shop in the same supermarket, hardware store, and pharmacy, passing you by as you fail to recognize them as the recurring faces of your daily routine. Much more than familiar strangers, they are the ghosts hiding behind a fog of electronic screens and apps. Concealed by a sea of notifications and suggestions, these faces are nonetheless present on your every social platform – as your aunt’s Facebook friend, your colleague’s Instagram follower, your Snapchat friend recommendation, your mom’s LinkedIn connection and more. When you open your dating app, there appear the very faces you have spent all day ignoring. This face you choose to discard a second time around, swiping left on this fateful but anonymous figure you have tried so hard to remember. Not even feeling a sentiment of déjà vu, they remain nothing but a stranger. The protagonists of your subconscious’s fiction have managed to invade every aspect of your awoken life, whilst their identity still remains a mystery to you. Everybody in the streets becomes an unknown face with the potential of slowly creeping their way into the wandering thoughts of your subconscious – transforming into an actor in the intimate creations of your imagination.