Sunday, August 20, 2017


Common ground is the most organic ice breaker.  I remember a trip through the grocery store, the first of which my daughter elected to walk with me instead of ride in the cart.  I was feeling brave so I said, "Ok.  Let's go."  Two aisles later I was engaged in full-on toddler warfare.  Police helicopters received audible distress calls from several miles away.  In that moment, I'd have clung to any measure of support to carry me through the store and back to the sanctuary of my own truck.  Such comfort appeared in nothing more than an unerstanding look and nod of the head by a passing parent.  They'd silently said, "I've been there.  Hang tough, buddy."  I scooped up my kiddo and we finished our shopping trip intact.  The notion that my day had been experienced and survived a thousand times before me, was all I needed to pick myself back up and get going.  

A similar commonality is how I finally broke free of my reclusive shell discussed in the last entry.  An insightful and courageous woman saw fit to share with me a very personal account of her own darkest days, in effort to shine a little light on mine.  She did so, and so much more.  In fact, I soon recognized a great deal of common ground well outside the walls of our initial comparison of train wrecks.  Seeing beneath her outer layers conjured an appetite for more.  Suddenly, I gained awareness of how much time we spent sharing war stories.  I think this was because I saw a greater value to our conversation than the fact we earned matching scars.  And so grew an exciting curiosity.

Stories of her academic and professional career enthralled me.  Some people are born with an endless desire to learn, subject regardless.  Not a single speck of dust will ever settle atop a mind like hers.  It never sleeps.  The innate curiosity of a lifelong learner is a trait I hold in the highest regard.  She's the four leaf clover in a world content with mediocrity.  She spoke to me with a spirit for her profession that filled the room.  Her words carried with them a certain emotion I could feel within.  I recognized it as my own.  We had established another common ground; this one far more gratifying than the former.  We spoke of the lack of priority our culture places on skilled trades.  She lives for blue collar value.  So do I.  Not long after sharing stories of working class woes and the lessons learned by hard working fathers, the pace of conversation quickened.  Though, neither of us seemed to take notice.  Space and time began to bend at our will and soon minutes became hours, as we shared Mike Rowe posts and snippets of our respective industries.  I was dually engaged in racing through my mind to connect wires and spill the contents into open air, and simply pausing to receive every last detail of her own language.  

I remember the night I went to bed with the comforting feeling I'd made a quality friend.  

My short term memory had begun shifting its contents into long term storage, clearing the shelves for whatever would follow.  I couldn't know yet, but I knew enough to make room.  This exercise in clearing shelves is really just analogous to a far more defining moment in my life.  I'm talking about the multi-level facility that is my subconscious, and the absolutely unfathomable volume of fucking trash I had allowed to accumulate.  It weighed me down and had lingered so long, the filthy corners of my mental recess appeared to blend in with the surroundings.  I didn't see them as dirty.  I saw "normal."  I was grateful for the focus shift afforded by a worthy woman's kindness.  Soon, it was as if I were driving my car to pick up a hot date, when I suddenly remembered the forty breakfast sandwich wrappers jammed under the seats.  I thought, "Whoa.  How long have these been here?  It's time to clean this thing up and be presentable again."

Somewhere between the comforting relatability of our not-so-perfect histories and the active choices to rise above them, I began to fancy her as my hot date.

Normally an exciting prospect such as this would provide the shot of adrenaline straight to my heart.  Though exactly at this moment, it occurred to me that my heart had been racing for days already.  Somewhere under the surface, otherwise platonic exchanges of single parenthood and oceans and mountains had planted the earliest seeds of emotional connection.  And I didn't come to realize what was growing, until I thought to look for it.  What an exhilarating discovery that my feelings for her, had exceeded my capacity to notice them at surface level.  I think this is the definition of true attraction.  The most raw form.  Clearly on some deeper level, she and I had already grown in tune.

And so began to flourish another exciting curiosity, the nature of which made me look over my shoulder as if a passer-by might hear my thoughts out loud and blush.  I felt myself surrendering to a growing desire for intimacy.  Her intellect, ambition, character, compassion; her perspective and outlook; the way she thrived in the wake of struggle; the ease of communication; the way we lost track of time; the growing compatibility gave passage to another desire.  The qualities I had come to admire over the first days of our interaction were slowly generating a tension I struggled to subdue.

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