When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
Though, apparently, I look like one. Sometimes. From the side maybe. Or the back. Or in the pancake line.
I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened this trip. I was in a check-out line, or picking up pancakes at the griddle from the pancake chef, or walking into or out of a lady’s room and inevitably I got called sir or mistaken for a sir. A few examples, hilarious as they are. The woman walking into the restroom at the Wal-Mart in South Dakota who did a double take, sideways glancing at me, then at the restroom sign to make sure it was the women’s restroom she was walking into. The guy serving beignets at the art fair cart who asked, “what can I get you sir”, who then looked me fully in the face and started to sort of sputter. The time I was, once again, walking into a restroom at a gas station and a teen and her mother were sort of walking in tandem/following me in. The teen said to her Mom, “a guy just went into the restroom. Yes, mom, a man just went in.” I knew they were talking about me. I was just ahead of them. At first they didn’t even come in behind me, then they did, but didn’t go into a stall, even though one was available, until I came out, looked directly at them, smiled, and said hello. The mom said hi, then scowled at the teen. I guess they didn’t want to go into a stall next to a man, if a man was in there with them. Honestly, I don’t know why, I would. I mean, if I have to go, and there’s an open stall, I don’t care whose next to me, I’m going in. But then, I’m “the guy”, so maybe that changes my opinion about it.
I have a theory.
I don’t think we look at each other. Not really. Not in the eyes, not fully in the face. We glance sideways and nod or say hello or ask how people are doing, but we don’t really look. And because we don’t really look, we never truly see. I feel this way not just because I was repeatedly called a man this trip, until people really looked at me, realized I was a girl, and then hemmed and ha’d and pretended they hadn’t made that mistake, but because I’m a person who does look people in the eye. Unless I’m doing what I tell my honey to do occasionally which is, don’t make eye contact, don’t look at them, don’t engage. Those are special circumstances. Mostly both my honey and I look at people. I’ve always loved that about her, and I know she loves it about me. We are people who try to acknowledge other people. And the people we try to acknowledge usually like it; clerks in stores, people walking on the street, receptionists, homeless people, the list goes on and on. We look at people, both of us, but people don’t often look back, or at least they don’t initiate it. They look sideways or down or off somewhere over the shoulder. They don’t focus in, and in fact try not to.
Yeah, yeah… I wear boy shorts and t-shirts, my hair is really short, I probably even sort of walk like a guy, or not, I actually have no idea. But, I sound like a girl, unless it’s late into the night and I’ve been around a camp fire and the man voice comes out. I don’t think, when someone looks me fully in the face, they would ever wonder if I was a guy or a girl. I guess I could be wrong, but that’s what I’ve been told. Especially when I smile, which I’m doing most of the time. And all of this isn’t really the point. I don’t actually care about being called a guy, but I do sort of care about not being seen. Not being seen for who I am.
I wasn’t seen because people didn’t really look, not at first anyway. I had to work at it, say something to them, make them look me in the eyes, in the face, before they realized the mistake they’d made. I saw it play out on face after face, time after time. Fascinating.
It makes me sad that we feel the need to avoid each other, to not fully engage with our fellow humans. We try to keep ourselves separate, and what? Safe? Unencumbered? We try to stay in our own little bubbles.
Next time, when you’re out and about, do a little experiment. Look people in the eyes, smile at them, say hello, engage in some brief but witty repartee. SEE them. Let them SEE you. The world is brighter and fuller and more expansive if we let people in, if we open ourselves up. I feel this way, and it can’t only be me. Trust me, the people you acknowledge, that you look at, talk to, most of them will like it. Most of them will light up. And you will feel awesome, more connected, free.
But then again, do you really want to take advice from a dude? This dude. I don’t know….
I was sitting outside this morning, enjoying a bit of time before the heat and humidity forced me back inside. I had a cup of coffee and was chatting with K about our trip to Oregon this year, going over some of the little details of the trip out, discussing some of the things we will do while we’re there. During the discussion I started thinking about all of our people out there, which I often do. I wondered if we would get to see most of them, I hoped we would.
Thinking about the people you miss sometimes leads to thinking about the life you’ve had. Mine has been amazing so far. Amazing, mostly, because of the people who have been in my life, either for a short time or for most of it. It’s the people, you see, who make a life what it is. It’s the experiences you have with those people who make the memories you hold on to, that make this journey we are all on worth the ride.
In that short time sitting outside I ran the gamut of my life, thinking about antics on playgrounds, singing silly songs in high school hallways, riding around in my Plymouth Scamp, playing frisbee in dark parks, skipping class to go to the coast, bridesmaids dresses, card games, talks in coffee shops, bike rides, racquetball, drive-in movies, travel to far away places, crying together, music shared, and laughter. So much laughter. So many smiles. I have what seems like an endless litany of shared experiences.
My thoughts then turned to Facebook, which really isn’t that strange of a leap to make. I realized, during this short accounting of my life, that I am friends on Facebook with people from all phases of my life. I have managed to gather them there, these parts of my life, parts of myself. I can look at my friends list and see people I knew in grade school, people I spent time with in high school, people I met in college, and people from my work life afterward. And I realized something else… I love them all. I love them like I love those versions of myself. The versions of me I was when I knew them. I hold those parts of myself close, trying to remember who I’ve been, how far I’ve traveled in life, and who these wonderful people have become themselves. Who we are all becoming, every day as we move forward in life.
It’s a deep thought, not easily articulated. I guess I will say this. I love Facebook. Not for the games or the re-posting or the political stuff I seem to be inundated with every day, but for the connection. I love it for the window into people’s lives. For the thoughts and photos and snippets of things that are important to them. People I’ve loved, people I still love for who they were to me, who they are to me now. People who have made my life what it is, who have made me who I am. I’m grateful for this connection, for this window. I’m blessed to have been able to renew those ties to my former self, my younger self, and to stay connected to family and friends in far away places.
Before Facebook these parts of my life were like vapor. Diffused. Slightly transparent. Now, though still removed and in far off places, they are re-connected to me. And I am, miraculously, reconnected to myself, to my past, to this life I’ve lived and am living, and to the people that have made this life. I’m grateful for that.
It’s windy out there tonight. I can hear the rattling of the blinds as the wind whips in, rustling them, causing a banging on the window frame. I may have to shut the window, but maybe I’ll put up with it, I love the cool desert night air. And I love the sound of the wind, whipping by outside. Whistling, then howling, then still. It is a symphony.
It’s after 11:00 in Vegas. It was warm today, 79 and blue sky. I wore shorts and a t-shirt, had on my slide shoes and had to squint when I was out driving around. I think the people who live here think it’s still sort of cold. They are used to the heat. My body doesn’t expect it until June. I live in the Midwest after all.
I’m missing my honey and don’t much like being so far away from her, but am glad I came. Friends like these are gifts.
It’s amazing how people can be so different, and yet have so much love for each other. I was a bit nervous about coming. Not sure how, after all these years, we would get on. Hoping it would be the same, wondering if all of life’s ups and downs might have changed us all somehow, made us different people. Those ups and downs have changed us, all of us, but who we are, and have always been, to and for each other remains. Distance and time haven’t altered that. Thank god.
I am blessed to have these people in my life. And with them, as I always have felt, I am home. We’ve been in each others lives for so long there’s a comfort and certainty that is reassuring and magical. There’s a peace that happens not brought by any one of us, but made by our presence together. Deep love and understanding resides there.
We may be different, see the world differently, but we understand each other and know, always, that there’s a love and a respect and a kindness there.
My wish for the world is that people would feel this sort of kinship in their lives. I’ve been lucky enough to feel this with several people throughout the course of my life. Spectacular people, each and every one.
This tapestry of lovely humanness is overwhelming, and as I sit here, the blind still banging on the sill, I feel an incredible sense of humble gratitude for how fortunate I am, for how full my life is of beautiful people, and for the sounds of the wind, right outside the window.