Once we were strangers

How does it happen…how do we go from strangers to friends?  It’s a curious thing, curiouser and curiouser…how we meet new people and how a relationship grows, or doesn’t.  I am fond of saying and writing that I am a work in progress, and do believe that all of us are,  in some way or another.  There are always elements of who we are and how we act and what we think and do that we can improve.  I think sometimes about how we come in and out of each others lives and what we bring to relationships and what we take.  There are lessons we learn with every goodbye, every bad break-up, every ending, and I think if we are wise, or at the very least aware, we start every new friendship, every new love, every new interaction with some level of understanding about ourselves that we did not have, or perhaps were not conscious of, before.

I suppose that in some circumstances the time it takes to know, or believe that somebody “fits” us or will suit us, is quite short and at other times, well, we could spend months with a person and come to find that we really did not know them at all, they are completely something “else”…with some others, in a matter of days we can wonder where they had been all our lives, how was it we never crossed paths, how is it that it feels like we’ve known them forever…I’m sure that for many social scientists there are algorithms and formulas that can answer these sorts of questions, but for those of us who just try to “be” there is not much in the way of rules or recipes, we simply must follow our instincts, that gut feeling, always.  I’ve learned that when I don’t, it is a grievous error.

Last June, one night while perusing cyber-space and enjoying some ice-cold vodka, I took notice of the little sidebar on Facebook called “people you may know.”  It is something I had never looked at before and the first picture on the top of this list was of a man and a little girl and it indicated we had 41 mutual friends.  ‘Who on earth is this person?,’  I asked myself, that I had no idea who he was and yet we shared quite a number of mutual acquaintances…so as I am prone to do, I wrote him a note, and remarked simply that I thought it funny that we went to high school together at the same time and knew all these same people and that I had no idea who he was.  A cyber friendship developed and after three misses, well, to be clear, three times he asked me to come see him play the drums and meet, and three times I chickened out, we finally met eye to eye in the early morning hours after his show on July 4th.  He smiled at me when he walked in my door and I got butterflies in my belly like I had not had since I was a 14-year-old girl.  Our first kiss later that night was far more exciting than the fireworks I had seen hours before.  We talked until the sun came up and I went to work wondering how I had never before known this person who suddenly I wanted to know more than anybody in the whole world…

It’s inexplicable, really, how the chemistry happens, how the sparks fly, how we went from strangers to friends in a matter of hours and how before the week was up,  I felt I had truly and finally found my match.  I am, and have always been, something of a hopeless romantic, but that does not diminish the reality of how it happens, or in most cases, doesn’t.  My daughter went to Myrtle Beach for spring break in her senior year of high school and arrived home to tell me she had met the boy she was going to marry…I thought it could not possibly be true, that she could not have made such a connection in only a week, but seven weeks later I watched them get married in my sister’s gazebo, and here they are, soon to celebrate their 9th anniversary, still in love and having created a beautiful family together.  My mother and father were acquainted for years, he a summer boy here at the shore and she a year-rounder, but their first official date was on Easter Sunday, walking the boardwalk in Atlantic City and they were married 8 weeks later, and here they are, still dearly in love with each other…so I KNOW it happens, or can happen, and fast.  They just knew.

A few days after I met this man last summer, we were in Atlantic City watching a great “hot girls” dance show, and they performed a number to a song whose lyrics were “where have you been all my life” and I laughed that night, so full of joy and wonder and excitement, that it was a very valid question…where had he been all my life?  You just don’t know, do you?  When a stranger becomes something more, something else…it’s magical really, how once we were strangers, and now we have this.  We have smiled at each other every day since we met and we have found that perhaps we were at the same pit parties in the woods, at the same beach parties here at the shore, in and out invisibly of each others lives for so many years since we were  teenagers, and we talk and wonder what our lives might have been like, had we met sooner…but I do believe that we meet people we are supposed to meet when we are supposed to meet them, so I no longer waste much energy wishing we had met when we were young, I just am glad we met at all…

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