Friday, November 5, 2010

A Brief Encounter

I am headed out to a friend's house to unwind with my daughter and her and I'm afraid I won't be back in time to post by midnight!  So, as a Sneaky Pete, I'll just leave this teaser until I return.  Today's question via NaBloPoMo:

"What makes you notice someone?"

Don't hate me 'cause I'm cheating!  I'll finish the post, I promise!

...later the next morning...

Okay, so here's the deal.  I FORGOT MY GLASSES AT MY FRIEND'S HOUSE and I left my spares in my office, so I couldn't finish the post last night.  What a loser.  At present, I am sitting here wearing my husband's readers and my eyes are killing me.  I must persevere!   

There are many things that cause me to notice a person---their eyes, a smile, an act of kindness, looking good in some fashion or just by being beautiful.  There is not just one thing that does it.  It could be something obnoxious, too.  I hate when it's because of a negative.  We seem to be so surrounded by that in our culture these days.

As I sit here and write this, I've begun to realize something.  I don't notice people the way I used to and I will blame it on something I call "Bremenitis".  I grew up on Army bases and in a small town.  It used to be in Army circles that families would embrace one another and be fairly tight-knit.  I can't say if it is the same today.  My parents were pen pals with friends from their days in the service  for over fifty years!  That's amazing.  Because of this and because I am by nature an extrovert, I developed into a person who would and could meet and welcome anyone into my life.  I really love that and I just assumed growing up that everyone was the same.  When we returned to my dad's hometown, the openness continued, at least in my own mind and in my own family experience.  Everyone knew everyone and, as a child, I felt loved by my community.  This continued through my adult years until my late 30's.  Then we moved to this small town in the midwest.  

It took me a while to figure this out, but once I tested my theory, it became more and more evident.  What I found was that people would barely greet each other on the street.  Maybe I should say that they would barely greet me on the street, but I truly believe it is wide-spread.  The weirdest things would happen.  I would meet people through church or meet other parents through our kids' activities.  We could have multiple conversations over a short period of time, yet they couldn't muster a simple "hello" when they would meet me in the grocery store or walking down the street.  I can't tell you  how many times this would happen:  I would notice another football mom coming down the same aisle in the grocery store and I'd be gearing up for a "hi."  The mom would see me coming and turn and look at the shelves as she passed by me.  It wasn't always the same person, but it happened soooo many times.  I'm telling you, it was and is the most bizarre thing!  I always wanted to shout, "Hey, bimbo!  I don't want to be your best friend, I just wanted to say hello!!!"  What I have found is that (many/most) people in this town get stuck for an answer when you say "hi".  Those who don't have a spot in my heart forever because I'm just so grateful not to be ignored.

The saddest part THAT I MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR is that the wounds I have felt from these experiences over the last seventeen years have caused me to become a bit like them.  That is shameful.  It's not that I don't want to reach out, it's that I can't continually put myself out there for fear of being once again rebuffed.  Sad, and very, very stupid.  As Ghandi would say, I need to be the change I wish to see in the world.

I don't want to paint a horrible picture of this community because there really are some wonderful people here.  I just think we need to be kinder, more welcoming and loving toward one another.  I think that is the case everywhere.

Man, how was that for a spin on the question?

Beyond the question of what makes me notice people is the question "What makes me want to know them?"  The answer to that is so simple.  I want to know someone when I detect that they have a heart condition.  Is it big?  Is there room in it for others?  Do they use it for good?  If the answer to that is "yes", then come on over to my house.  There's room for you here, too.


maria said...

Hi Jdm. I notice people in the first instance with their own personal style, but deep down with kindness and optimism in their eyes.
Sorry if I make a syntax or spelling mistakes but English is not my native language. Thank you stopping by my blog. Have a nice weekend.

Todd said...


I hear you loud and clear. When we were at Saint Joe, everyone said hi to everyone. We left our doors open in the dorms and people stopped in and talked. It was great. This is what I still hope for in a community.

The Japanese Redneck said...

After overcoming extreme bashfulness as a child, I've embraced the southern nature of saying hi and trying to speak to strangers.

In the Country where we live, we wave when driving past other drivers and people outside their homes.

I find it un-southern (rude), when people don't speak or wave back....