Chani (of Thailand Gal) recently did a Steal This Meme about how we meet people: what's it like to meet you, she asked.
I said---after reading her list---it was a good thing we met online.
The first time you meet me? I might act like your oldest best friend you never met.
I never ever mean to be overwhelming, or to step on toes.
It simply means I feel very comfortable with you. I sort of...pick up talking with you, as if resuming a conversation we interrupted five minutes ago.
Yesterday, I made a new friend. In the Target parking lot.
I was with the entire family, and we were at the car after a looooooooooong Home Depot and Target shopping trip (notice how those are so often proximate to one another?) loading the bags into the trunk. About finished, I turned to get the last bag, and noticed The Lady with the cream Beatle convertible with MA plates walking to her car.
"Just a sec, hon," I called to my husband, "I'll be right back!"
I rushed over to her and said, "MASSACHUSETTS, hey MASSACHUSETTS! You're from Massachusetts?"
She pointed to her license plates, laughed and said, "Yeah, Cohasset! You?"
"Beverly," I said, happily yet wistfully, "We moved down from Beverly."
That's all it needed: instant allies, friends.
"How long?" she asked.
"Three years," I said, "And you?"
"Almost one," she sighed.
And we stood there, chatting, maybe fifteen, maybe 20 minutes? Who can say, it was a nice conversation that flowed easily and companionably.
I learned why she was down here, and she me, we traded a few tales, commiserated about the lack of public transportation, and discovered our common English major history, as well as common professional goals. By the end, we both knew we thought of ourselves as short-timers, relationship status, kids ages...in short, current life story. We traded cards and emails and promised to keep in touch.
And the last thing we traded? Names.
That is what it's like to meet me. Sometimes.
It just goes that easily sometimes. I guess you could call it clicking. It is often a matter of two people, eager to talk on some topic, both contributing equally on the same level.
But then there are other times.
Perhaps something about you makes me pause. I might realize (or I might miss it) that you need a different approach, something slower or quieter, a lower tone or level. I might need a little time to figure out how to get to know you.
Perhaps there is something about me. I might have an insecurity on my end, possibly you remind me of someone I once knew, or perhaps I feel a little uncertain, self-conscious, maybe even intimidated for some reason. It might be one of Those Days, when I'm a touch moody, or otherwise overwhelmed.
I might miss cues, and approach you too "big" then throttle back.
It might seem confusing, it might appear inconsistent. I might seem like a chameleon, and maybe I am. The desire to reach out and get to know people, that's honest and true. But once upon a time I was hindered by a sort of shyness. So I learned how to get out, meet people, open up, even work a room.
Once upon a time, I was a master of working a room. I can still do it, but as I've gotten older, my desire (sense of obligation) to do so has lessened. I don't like it much now; it feels tiresome sometimes. I'm back to where I began, in a way. I prefer a nice, small circle of good friends. I enjoy a comfy conversation with a good friend or two over a big party. If I get to a place with a crowd, if I strike up a good conversation I won't leave it just to circulate (unless I'm hosting). I'll sit and enjoy the good time.
At the end of the day, I realize I am half and half: half introvert and half extrovert. This explains everything.
Still, I'm the lady who will walk up to someone in the parking lot if I am so compelled and find a neat new person to know.
When I give you my card (and I don't always) I mean it: get in touch. If I say I will, I will. If I like you, I mean it and I add you to my "someone I know and like" list.
Once upon a time this was my "friend" list but I've learned a few lessons.
I don't always ask to trade info. If I do, it means I've really enjoyed our chat. Not everyone really means "call me!" Some people just give you info to "be nice." Some people are acquaintances, not friends.
And that's cool. I've learned.
I've learned to take cues, and am respectful. I don't think anyone has ever been upset by my friendliness. I do think I am pretty good at sussing out who to approach.
If I'm really motivated and the vibe seemed to be reciprocated (not just polite, and I'm getting better at distinguishing although it's MUCH HARDER down in the South where you are beaten from birth into submission to SuperFriendliness---and what lies behind that is another post altogether) I'll send a brief email.
If you don't reply, I let it go.
Speaking of letting go...remember the Hump Day Hmm this week is on Wednesday as usual and is about letting go. Put up your post, email the link to me at j pippert at gmail dot com and I'll put you in the host post. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with, especially on this topic.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert