Surfaces

“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”
Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

So says Marianne Dashwood… as she is falling in love with John Willoughby despite her sister Elinor’s warning to slow down a bit in the acquaintance. And {spoiler alert!} Elinor is correct. Willoughby is not the wonderful specimen of humanity that he would have Marianne believe him to be.

And yet, Marianne is also correct.  You can live with someone, share meals with them, even sleep beside them for years and not fully understand what they may be capable of.  I once lived with someone who seemed pretty mild-mannered and harmless right up until things ended badly.  It was only after the breakup that he turned creepy stalker for a while.  Eventually things calmed down and he went away, but for a few months, there were moments when I felt as though I was living out of my car.

In hindsight, there were moments where I could have opened my eyes and seen what was there… Like when I discovered the bondage-porn he had downloaded to my computer after I’d asked him not to visit sites like that on my internet account.

That, of course, is the downside to getting to know people.  You can take someone at their surface value, or you can keep scratching until what you suspect is there, but sometimes the scratching is what creates the substance, rather in the way a sculptor works.  Sometimes we believe that still waters run deep, but sometimes the still waters are just mosquito-infested puddles of stagnant water.

But at times, those brief bursts of compatibility are not as destructive.  Sometimes you can hit it off with someone very quickly, and whether you maintain the level of intimacy or not, the time spent becoming acquainted alters the pattern of who you are in beautiful ways.

Back in my high school days of wanting to be a professional musician, I attended a summer music camp for a couple of years, and in one of those years I met a friend whom I will always remember fondly as a kindred spirit.  Looking back, I knew her for such a short time, but within a day or two we could finish one another’s sentences.

Little girls hugging

Sometimes it feels as though you are destined to meet someone, and you learn that your paths have crossed many times before you actually become acquainted.  I met a girl in my torts class in law school who, it turned out, had lived in the building next door to my apartment in Tallahassee years earlier; though we knew most of the same people in the neighborhood, we didn’t meet until we both moved to Atlanta.  She was one of my best friends in law school, but we lost touch soon after graduation.

Adam was a bit like that for me… We were both born in Detroit, though in different years, and we both wound up going to high school in the same small town in Florida.  We didn’t meet until almost two years ago, but there was a connection there.

The truth is that connections are often intangible, a product of perception and sometimes just lucky guesses.  When they are good, they can touch you in profound and beautiful ways.  And usually, if you listen to that little instinct within, you can tell the difference, but many of us ignore what we feel on a gut-level.

Here’s hoping that you meet with the fun, dynamic, like-minded people in the world, and not the people you later find have created seventeen different Facebook accounts because you’ve blocked the first fifteen.

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