You know that thing that happens sometimes, when you meet someone and you think,”Haven’t we met before?” There’s this comfort level, an instant camaraderie, and it’s a wonderful surprise on those rare occasions when it occurs, right? And you walk away from the moment, smiling a contented smile, thinking,”Wasn’t that nice?”
So, multiply that by, like, a lot and that’s how it feels when you meet someone, and you think,”Are we the same person, just a few decades apart on the life trajectory?” I don’t mean literally, because that’s not possible…right? It’s just that sometimes, you have to wonder.
And I say “sometimes,” but I actually mean, “It’s never happened to me before, but it has now.”
A very dear friend of mine has often told me about her one son and how much alike we are – the kind of comment that usually engenders the response,”That’s sweet.” But in this case, she said, no, it was much more than that – we talked a like, we moved a like, we reacted a like, we had the same sense of humor and we looked really similar – and again, I repeat,”That’s sweet.”
We’d never met in all these years because of distance, but time has a way of making distances narrow, so this year it became possible for our paths to cross…and they did…and it was a remarkable thing, because, well, we talked a like, we moved a like, we reacted a like, we had the same sense of humor and we looked really similar. Sweet!
We’d both been prepped to meet, so it could have gone either way, but we each immediately saw and heard what we were both led to believe we would. We spent about two days in each other’s company at a big event thing, so we didn’t spend that much time together getting to know each other, but it really didn’t seem necessary – we’d subliminally covered about 20 years of small talk and catching up, in the spaces in between; and at the end of the second day, we were kindoflike related.
So, here it is about five months later, and I had reason to go to Chicago for business. Chicago, a town I love – a handsome town, a broad-shouldered town with quietly confident sophistication – which is a description that suits my young friend. It’s his new home base, since moving from New York just two months ago. Good match.
We made plans to meet for dinner, and proceed to have the most relaxed, interesting, conversational evening, where sentences are completed by the other or don’t even need to be, where physical gestures and expressions are mimicked without intentionally meaning to be. We each catch the other watching people and silently supplying them with story lines. I recognize a self-protective charm that’s all too familiar; he observes a need to put others at ease which he knows only too well. I see sophistication complemented by an innocence I’d almost forgotten. He sees a self-confidence that’s taken years to develop. And we both see a structured and studied casualness in our posture. Is it possible to be structural, studied and casual at the same time, you ask? Yes. Yes it is.
I’m excited for where he is and where he’s going. I’m proud of the chances he’s taken and the statements he’s made. I empathize strongly with the duck-out-of-water-never-really-fitting-in-thing. And I totally get the loving-the-spotlight-but-being-leery-of-the-cast-shadows-thing.
People like us – we don’t blend. And wouldn’t know how if we tried, which we have. And frankly, don’t see the value in it. Good thing. Because it’s who we are, who we were born to be. Both of us. The same.
What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach is the same.
– Mark Nepo
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