The Meetings of Anna

The Meetings of Anna ★★★★★

Where do they all come from? All these lonely faces. The ones that fill the train cars that Anna passes by, a myriad of shadows and sketches of the withdrawn. The same faces are found on the various people she meets throughout the film. In these brief encounters she lets others into her loneliness and they let her into theirs. They talk, she listens. They confide in Anna expressions of their isolation. For a moment maybe they don't have to feel so alone. But the ephemeral nature of these encounters points to an impossibility, it's all kind of silly.

Reaching the end of a long quarantined summer, several people contacted me making plans to meet up before school started up again. COVID numbers were on the drop at the time. I decide to be irresponsible and risk it. I felt the need to act on everyone reaching out, because they've been isolated and I know how it feels.

I meet with some old friends I met in high school. It has been a while. They haven't changed much, or maybe they have and I just can't see it. They still feel like the "boys," but things are a little off for me. I do notice they drink more now, a lot more. Will they still be the boys in 20 years? I'm a different person from the one I was when I was apart of this group. I'm a better one, or at least I hope so. I've certainly stepped away from some of the most toxic traits that have me constantly agonizingly cringing over my past self. In other ways though I'm worse, I get lost in my own interior world, I think of cinema. I feel detached. A boy in mourning over this grey world. One of the friends reveals he broke up with his girlfriend. Its a roast fest. This girl was troubled to say the least, and these guys were definitely concerned for their friend, but that did not surface much in their barrage of slightly bad faith jokes. I could see that the friend in question masked his worry for her underneath a smile. Later I caught him alone. We talked about her mental health. He was very kind to her (as expected). This guy has always been kind, especially to me. I wasn't always as kind back. He defiantly has one of the biggest and strongest hearts I have ever known. For a moment I start to see the mask being taken off, he confesses that he is very concerned about her state of mind and that they still message.

Our conversation was interrupted. We were never able to finish it.

I meet with a girl I met through Tinder or Bumble (I can't remember which). Our fourth time together. Our third night together. She's not interested in me, nor I in her. Not like that at least. This is very casual, on that we are clear. Will this be the night we end up sleeping together? No. We never get to that point. By the time we are naked all we have in us is to embrace each other. From my understanding she is used to having sex in these types of situations. I don't know if I have that in me, but it feels good to be in her arms. I hope she doesn't notice the tears in my eyes. She tells me the only reason she is even in Canada is because her Mother found out she was in to "women" as well, and it was either study abroad or some fucked up conversion therapy. She tells me her fears of not being good enough to be a surgeon, says she wants to "cut people up." I hope she wants to put them back together as well. I try to comfort her. I hope this helps in some way. We decide to sleep. I can't. I wake her up to lock the door behind me. 4:00am. On the drive home I can't escape the feeling that I'm some sort of pathetic jerk. Why the fuck did I come? Why did I cry? "She invited me" I tell myself.

I hope she's doing alright. I question messaging her. I decide not to.

My ex-roommate moved into her new place in the city. She invites me over as the first guest to see her new place. I haven't really been to the city since my ex-girlfriend and I stopped seeing each other. The GPS takes me past the street she lived on. Those nasty feelings creep into my mind. You're alone. I shake them off. I'm happy to see my old roommate again, we have always gotten along. I'm also excited to be back in the big city, I've always loved it. She remembered my birthday was coming up and bought a small gift for the occasion. A pair of socks from a friend is a treasure for sure. Birthdays never fail to get me down, another year gone by, but I was happy she remembered. I gave her and her new roommate my house warming gift, a copy of Catan (a board game we used to play together), maybe it was a bit to sentimental but right away I could tell it was an excellent gift. It was a lovely night that ended with a nocturnal escapade to try and find a convince store open to buy lottery tickets because we were feeling lucky. It was very softly raining, my favourite time to go for a walk in the city. You know me, I'm a rain dog through and through. We walked for blocks, no luck. About to give up the search we say one more block, and to our amazement there it is, that wonderful neon open sign. Me, My ex-roomate and her new roommate and long time best friend each buy a ticket. Usually I wouldn't buy one, in fact I never had before, but it felt right then. None of us won anything, but I really felt like all three of us had enjoyed the night. I could tell they were tired. I say my thank-yous and goodbyes.

On my drive home, once again alone, I get lost in the music. I take the long way home. I drive past my house. "Not yet." The album finishes, I keep driving only this time in silence. I wonder what expression I had on my face in that silence.

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