Intimacy does not always take a long time to achieve. I once met a young woman who was twenty or more years younger than me. We were introduced by a mutual friend one afternoon at a coffee shop.
hindsight it seems ridiculous how quickly we opened to each other.
Ridiculous, because you think these things never happen. Or, perhaps
you grant that they do now and then happen, but you feel they must be
superficial, for your heart is leaping forward, blooming even more
quickly than a desert flower after a rain, while your brain is reeling
in disbelief because it can't quite keep up with your heart. She and I
were friends within minutes of our introduction.
surest sign our intimacy was not -- as you might reasonably expect --
superficial was that I discovered a new world through her. We swapped
stories, shared ideas, laughed at everything, and even now and then fell
into those long, comfortable silences you expect only old couples to
have. By the end of the afternoon, I felt I could see and feel about life as she saw
and felt about life.
I never saw her again. Towards evening, we hugged each other a long, long goodbye and then, within two days, she left the country for China, where she planned to attend university as an exchange student.
Have you noticed that life often leaves you hanging like that? You expect a good story, but you don't get one. Given how she and I got along, I would have expected us to have a long and brilliant friendship. By all rights, that's what should have happened, given what did happen.
But life recognizes no rights. It doesn't often progress like one of our stories. Not really, though we are always projecting stories onto it. But those are our projections. They mask, they hide, the fact that, while life may inspire us to rewrite it to fit a story, the story we make of it is not really there, and never was.
I think you sometimes see that most clearly if you have a friend who is a bit of a drama queen. He or she is always coming to you with a huge, overblown story of what has happened to them. But -- and here is where you see it -- when you go back to them a week later to ask how things turned out, little or nothing at all turned out. In other words, there was no progression, no climax, no denouement -- the whole huge, overblown drama just drizzled away, vanished. Or, alternately, the drama is still going on, endlessly repeating itself, endlessly the same as it ever was, with no progress, and no end in sight.
That's life. Everywhere we look, we see stories. But that's just because our brain is so good at editing and embellishing what we see so that events seem to us to have an introduction, a plot, a climax, and a denouement. But it isn't usually because those stories are really there, and not mainly in our heads or in our telling of them.