Each morning, then, we re-enter our own limited perspective, alone, isolated, secure inside our protective skulls. Each day we get to decide how much connection, how much intimacy. Which people will you look in the eye, which conversations will you initiate, how will you spend your moments & minutes. Will you build, will you coast?
Yesterday was a pool-of-one day, a day to hide. I used to be so frustrated with myself in school that I'd read for twenty minutes and fall asleep for twenty, but without a taskmaster schedule, it's kind of a nice way to process complicated ideas.
But today I'm ready to reinitiate contact. Olivia & I made a date to spend the entire day together, & I've been looking forward to it all weekend. Relationships sometimes happen accidentally, I guess - like people you work with in high school, or the folks who are always at the park when you take your kids. But probably not. Anyone you have reliable, call-in-the-middle-of-the-night connections with, it's probably a result of intentional work. A desire, and a follow-through.
My sister asked me once if I had any friends. Of course I have friends! (Even though I'm super lonely constantly). She asked, "How many people do you know you could call to go have coffee?" Um. Well, that's different. That's not how many names do you know, or how many people would say something kind about you. That's about how many relationships you have built. The answer at that point of my life was none, or maybe one but it would be super awkward. And that was when I was thoroughly churched, serving in one & attending another. Lonely? You bet. But also not investing in the people around me, who I had already decided were inferior to the people I'd left behind.
That realization freaked me out a little. Some time later I was on the phone with my brother crying about how I had no friends. He didn't seem terribly concerned, just told me that there'd be a day when people would be calling me wanting to hang out & I'd have to choose from the invitations. I was not pleased with his pat answer, didn't believe it, but felt a little better anyway. He was so sure, maybe hope was ok. Maybe my tragedy wasn't really, just a blip in a story. Growth.
There was a time I blamed California for that loneliness. Then poverty - hard to have friends when you have zero disposable income. Marriage. Jesus. Lots of reasons. But maybe the most important was me. Your relationships can't produce love and connection and intimacy like a magic tablecloth in a fairy tale produces food. They are organic. They bear fruit when you tend them.
And I think learning to like myself has been huge, too. That makes it believable that friends are everywhere, that moving to a new place doesn't mean a slow death as old faraway friendships go dormant. When I thought I was hard to like, meeting new people and handling change was painful. I had these really hilarious crying jags about how I'd never have friends as close as Tara and Shane. All the while refusing to open up to anyone in front of me.
Intimacy as a daily choice. Will I build intimacy today? Or is today a day to nurture myself, so I have freeflowing changeling goo to share later? Today I have the opportunity to connect. To create a new story. To touch part of the Great Link while awake. To laugh at my younger, ridiculous self. And to be grateful for people who love me, challenge me, throw me hope-lines, and have coffee with me.