Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hitting it off


Tonight it happened again. I completely loved other people, like love at first sight, only not in any romantic way I can think of.

Brother John Baptist, who just radiates goodness much the way I'd imagine Mother Theresa did. Sister Maria Frasatti, with her love of reading and English. Brother Timothy, spilling out book suggestions...

"Of course you liked them, they’re religious," you might be thinking. Anyone who knows me would accuse me of this right away, possibly knowing about the time I power-walked to a street corner just to try to say hi to a couple of nuns. But that's for another time.  

Religious are "supposed" to be holy. They're "supposed" to radiate this goodness. What's there not to like?

I didn't love them for these reasons (I probably did, actually, because I find their professed search for holiness amidst this world so inspiring and admirable... but that’s not what I’m getting at here). We are all capable of holiness, of being good and doing good and reaching for better. And wearing a different outfit (ie habit or robes) as we all know does not automatically make you holy. Otherwise, I would wear them every single day.

I loved them because I connected once more with human beings on such a fundamental level that it surprised me. I couldn't comprehend it even as it was happening. Here I was talking to strangers. Something clicked. Joy filled my heart. And now I have to write about it. 

We all know the feeling—the moment when a complete stranger leans into becoming a good friend. You immediately feel comfortable. Nothing is forced. You're talking and all of a sudden there's not enough time to say all that you want to say. Then you start joking back and forth, testing each other, taking things a step further. You say a snarky or sarcastic or intelligent or sweet (sometimes) comment. You wait for the response. And it usually is exactly the kind of response you were hoping for, only better. Someone totally gets you. You totally get them. Everything makes sense in the universe for two seconds.

I don't hit it off with every religious. I don’t hit it off with every stranger at a party either. And this fact is what makes “hitting it off” with another person so wonderful. You experience it enough to know it’s out there but not enough to mean it’s not rare. You appreciate it because you know these moments don’t happen all the time. And you’re making history right here, right now, with this person or these people in front of you. Because you hit it off. You got each other. Even if it only endures a moment.

And you just want to fist pump or say “booya” or moonwalk out of there—anything flashy and slightly out of control. You’re willing to throw your ego, reputation or self-consciousness out the window for seconds because you’re so excited. But instead you look the other person calmly in the eyes, exchange more witty or intellectual banter, shake hands cordially, and wish them a good night. Desperately hoping two things: 1. That you did in fact keep your cool and 2. That they felt the same way. 

Then you laugh because this is how you're spending your Halloween.