I’m standing opposite a boy with pimples on his cheeks and a sparkle in his eye. This sparkle is like a star signalling that it’s time for his sadness to go to sleep.

Because I’m standing opposite a boy who wasn’t perfect in school. Who always looked down at the floor – since the floor didn’t stare back. He was teased by his classmates for his pock-marked face, his short arms and his lanky body.

Nietzsche once said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But every week, when the boy was the last one to get picked during PE again, it felt as if 58 trainers started trampling his heart simultaneously – until there was nothing left except for a torn aorta next to a puddle of blood. And the only thing he learned from this experience was to build. Strong, tall walls that he could erect in his mind at will. That he could hide behind if he wasn’t feeling strong enough to take it anymore. And every morning, he put up this wall again, until he was so well hidden that nobody could find him anymore.

In search of a connection

The fourth floor of the campus building fills with salsa music. I take a small step towards him. The boy takes me by the hand and pulls me close. His arms are exactly the right length to carry me; his slender body seems to float opposite mine. On Wednesday evenings, he is no longer the boy with pimples; he’s the ideal partner for every woman in the room.

In salsa, there’s no place to hide. It’s a dance where you actually have to let down your walls and take charge. So every Wednesday evening, I surrender myself to the boy who no longer wants to hide. And as we dance, we build bridges made from walls that should never have been built in the first place. “Don’t look at the floor,” he tells me, and I stare guiltily in his eyes, in search of a connection that I won’t be able to make with the floor. He returns my stare until I get the sparkle too.

I wish he had never felt the need to build those walls. That he didn’t have to hide away. Or that the floor had looked back. That someone had seen how perfect he actually was.

Moo Miero is a student at Erasmus School of Law