dariaphoebe: (redhead)
We pulled off the road, a highway dating to 14 years before my birth, to switch drivers. A swap of the two front occupants put me behind the wheel, and I rested my foot on the clutch for a moment as I fastened myself in and finally pulled away. It would now be my responsibility to convey us, 2 women, a man and a dog, toward the city.

I noticed that he quickly nodded off beside me; Meanwhile, she and I chatted. We'd just met a few days prior. I knew little of her background, just as the converse was true. But we'd been sharing experiences since the beginning of the conference that had ended the previous day, and now finally had the opportunity to speak of things with less urgency.

I couldn't tell you how we got where we did. Something she asked led me where I went. Having gone there, and with the benefit of the preoccupation of three freeway lanes staring me in the face, I told her a 42 year story I knew well. It was a story I'd had ample time to reflect on and share, but this was perhaps the first time I'd gone through and told all of it together.

Unbeknownst to me, a woman 900 miles away stood in front of a lecture hall at the time, telling her story. She finished about the same time I pulled off in the town at the gateway to a subaqueous tube named for the 16th president, and as I fished out my phone to see what was happening in the world, I noticed the kudos starting. After we crossed the river and unloaded, I spent 30 minutes glued to my screen, listening and watching. The story I heard shared many details to a degree that was uncanny. I'd never met her, but I hope to, someday.

I was not alone. I am not alone. I will never be alone. The thing is, there were times when I felt it, because I had no way to know any better. And I have no way to figure out who else is feeling it, but I desperately wish I could tell them that they are not alone, either.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
Lunch was late, for both of us. I'd just spent the last 7 hours traversing our two states and the two that laid between to meet her. So we chatted some more in the car on the way into the city from her apartment at the edge of a town off to the east.

She was a few years my senior, and while the paths that had brought us together had a good bit of overlap, they were not the same. I planned to spend the few days I'd be spouseless with her, since my work didn't tie me down to home. Sensing that she was suffering from a lack of self-confidence, I hoped maybe the time we'd have might help with it.

So much of her story was familiar that it hurt a bit: there were memories, parts of my past, that I'd mercifully let sink beyond my grip now floating back to the surface. But that was not the point, and I tried not to dwell. Instead, I did my best to spend scattered moments of the next few days taking her around with me to what seemed as an outsider to be a selection of the most interesting sights, experiences, meals, in her part of the world. It meant pushing her out of her comfort zone a bit. But it also meant sushi and beaches, bike trails and cocktails, galleries and galas for female brewers.

And I got to see her world through her eyes: The bubbling creativity of her art and her work. The coffee shop, not unlike my own usual hangout, where she was greeted by name. And alas, a couple times, the casual abuse from strangers who passed us on the street.

This is friendship in the digital age. We'd not met physically until the 3 nights I spent on her inflatable mattress, and yet for neither of us was my departure an easy thing. The return journey shortly offered traffic jams that I'd grapple with til partway into the third state, but hours of Pennsylvania countryside with just music to keep me company offered ample time to unwind my own emotions while helplessly hoping she'd keep moving with the forward progress we made while I was there.

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dariaphoebe

May 2017

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