Parallel Lines

Is there anyone you’re drifting away from?

I looked at the randomly-generated question and felt a familiar weight in my stomach (you know, the one that all the butterflies settle on when they get tired of flapping about). I had been hoping for something sillier from this particular ask meme, but there it was… time to be serious.

I pondered, drumming my fingers against the desk. Certainly, as someone who has moved from place to place, there are people I once knew and whom I have since never spoken to again. Physical distance often causes emotional distance; out of sight and out of mind. And, although there are always social media platforms willing to help me track down play-pals of yesteryear… there are some people from whom I prefer to remain parted. And of course, there are a good handful of people whom I can safely say don’t want me anywhere near their lives as well.

We grow-up; we don’t change, I think, we just simply grow into ourselves. And sometimes in the course of growing up we realize that the people we knew when we were 13 are not the people we want to know at 28.

However, I have (as I’m sure many people do) certain acquaintances with whom I do not wish to be separated… even though it tends to take almost all of the effort on my part to persevere the relationship.

These are the titular “parallel lines.”

When I was in 6th grade, my geometry teacher joked that parallel lines were miserable because “no matter how close they are, they will never get together.”

As my readers doubtless have figured out, I have been blessed with some incredible friends. And within this group, I still count a few unique individuals with whom I rarely speak… and it is even rarer that I see them.

These are individuals whom, when I first knew them, were very close to me; I felt an affinity towards them and they to me (I think; I have eye-witness accounts to support this theory). There were many precious instances, in fact, when they and I were inseparable. We not only enjoyed each others’ company, but shared an understanding of the silence between words; we understood each other. It was intimate, at times frightening… and perhaps it was even a little delusional (a shared delusion, regardless).

However, in the course of growing up and moving away from the places where these friendships were formed, separations outnumber the reunions. Yet whenever I see these old friends again, our brief time together is joyous; in the space of 30 minutes we somehow manage  to compress the years apart to nothing.

But after these reunions? The silence returns. And I find myself questioning whether the relationships are worth struggling to keep. I dread the occasion when I will next see them and discover a void where once conversation flowed like a mountain stream. I do not want to thirst after their company for the rest of my life but, thus far, I do.

So then, what is the solution? Do I shrug my shoulders and murmur something about “ships in the night?” Do I let them disappear over the horizon towards new lands and take an ax to the ship-to-ship radio? Or is it better to stay my course, as a little parallel line to these friends, and simply cherish the closeness I feel to them, even if the “coming together” is, logically, never to occur?

The math, as before, remains a mystery…

Connect the Dots

According to MBTI, I am an INTJ. Now, like all qualifiers of personality, I am not certain how accurate this assessment is, nor do I intend to go too far into what it means to be an INTJ. However, most commonly we are labeled “Masterminds;” always thinking about “the plan” and how things fit together.

In other words, “I live in my head… because they know me there.”

And yet, in spite of my introverted nature, I am a Communications professional. Networking is not an option, but a necessity. I go to events, I shake hands, I swap information… and miraculously of all, I make small talk.

My job centers on making connections outside my head… and I confess, I LOVE doing exactly that.

What is “connection?” It is a linking, a joining… connect Legos, and you can build a rocket ship; miss your connecting flight and you are stranded, unable to move forward; connect with another human being and you become friends… or more.

We crave connection as proof that we exist; proof that we affect others and are affected by them.

When I make a connection with someone, I actively listen, both to what is said and unsaid. There is much to be learned in silence… probably why it’s golden.

And yet, I find that I am most connected when I sing. Connected to myself, to others, and the “something bigger” that we share in that experience. Performers thrill when “there is great energy out there;” energy generated when an audience gives as much to the artist as they give of themselves… and believe me, when you feel it, I feel it. Connection Established.

And beyond the realm of performance, be it professional or artistic, I realize that the mind-body connection is crucial to my contentment. If I neglect one in pursuit of the other, I am decidedly unhappy. That is why singing is such a wonderful outlet… it demands that I connect with my body (breath, posture); my mind (lyrics, pitch, story), and another human being (the audience).

So this week, I invite you to go forth and connect (and if you’re shy, do not underestimate the power of re-connecting with someone or something worthwhile).

Consider: connecting the dots is often the final step to completing a beautiful picture, a brilliant rhapsody, or the journey from Point A to Point B.

Dear Friend

I’ve been thinking of the transient nature of life. Almost since I was born, I have moved every four or so years. When people ask me “where I’m from” or what my “hometown” is, I laugh. And then, after apologizing for giggling, I take a deep breath and start ticking off the locations on my fingers: Born in Washington, moved to Texas, than Cheyenne Wyoming, then Maryland, college in California, and back up to Washington. “I guess I’ve come full circle,” I chuckle, even as I wonder when the circle will break and I’ll find myself elsewhere.

The longer I stay in one place, however, the closer I am to finding “home,” because the people I encounter during this time become very special friends.  These friends are special not because they are superior to others, but because they inevitably see more of my life and who I am.

These friendships start with shared interests (theatre, choir, school, career), which then extend into shared sympathies and humors. As time passes, I inevitably grow to have an understanding with these friends; an understanding of what is said in silence; an understanding of the words beneath the words; and an understanding of their hopes and fears… past, present, and future.

And it seems strange, at times, to realize that some of these friends of whom I am thinking, are people whom I rarely engage in conversation anymore, or even see.

I suppose the nature of adulthood is that we leave things behind. The myth of adulthood is that we ever do. When someone has truly touched your heart, in any way, it lingers; like a spray of water upon your skin, even after you’ve wiped it away.

We don’t shed people and places, we carry them with us; wrapping ourselves up in a quilt of memories; each thread a link to what was, each square a fragment of recollection. These memories are imperfect, idealized, but they comfort us, and strengthen us, so we cherish them, even when they start getting a bit tattered around the edges.

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful these connections are, and how some friendships continue to endure in spite of neglect. These people re-enter our lives in “very unusual ways” : an unsolicited letter of love when we are feeling utterly alone; spending time with someone after five years apart, and feeling like it was just yesterday that you said “see ya’ around”; the voice in your head, which offers counsel during times of trouble, taking on the tones of a childhood companion.

Instances like these make me reflect that although life is transient, and I myself am never destined to remain in one place for very long, everywhere I go is home so long as a friend is there.