A Stranger

A month ago or so, I discovered Brené Brown, a vulnerability and shame researcher, with major charisma.  She opened my eyes on certain things, in other words she “shook” me.  I started questioning my patterns, just as I have in the past during self-analysis psychology projects, or during my two years of “religious” yoga practicing.  I go through life in phases (like most people, I suppose), one, much rarer, being consciously, and the other blindly, sticking to patterns, impulsively responding with the type of reaction/feeling that I best know, not really questioning the reasons behind it.  Of course, responding within your personal pattern feels like a confined way to navigate through life, producing, more or less, similar results when it comes to interactions, your own feelings of inadequacy, disappointments, and over-analysis.

I’ve been trying very hard to pay attention, notice and respect my desires/feelings, without judgement.  And so, let the following be a story about those trials.

On Friday, I decided, despite my reservations, to go meet a person, a person I liked ,but that has been leaving me frustrated and confused.  It was, after all, what I wanted to do, and what I was refusing to do for the past month.  And so, I did just that.  I met up with that person.  Just for a little background story, we’re talking about that typical dating boy-girl interaction.  Feeling frustrated by the self who’s been calm cool and collected, for far too long, I decided to voice out how I feel and what bothers me.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve done that.  There’s something vulnerable in honesty, that every website, or friend tells us to avoid.  “Stop caring”, being the solution.   Of course the person had no clue I viewed things that way, and pretty much told me their version of their story being “She doesn’t care, she doesn’t put any effort to reach out to me, if she liked me, she would, she’s the last person I’d picture living with double standards.”  I listened, I understood, and I believed, without much doubt, because, honesty should bring honesty, right?

Then, while awaiting for chinese take-out at 1 a.m. with that person,  I received a text from my sister: my parent’s house got broken into, they took a lot of personal objects, such as my dad’s souvenirs of his mom, which made him break into tears.  Suddenly, I felt really sick, I wished I wasn’t so far away, and that I could be there to comfort them, I felt guilty about being far away, about not knowing exactly what’s going on. This person told me “Tell them a joke.”.  I was not going to get the type of comfort I wanted out of him.   I then understood I wanted to be alone.  And so, after being held back to stay, I pretty much “ran away”, knowingly, doing the right thing for me at that time.

I stood at my bus stop, waiting for a night bus, probably looking like death, because a Stranger with a glass of what I assume was rum&coke in his hands, stopped to talk to me.  “I know a good bar that’s still open, fancy a drink?“.  “No thank you.“, was my response, and has always been my response  in moments like these.  I tried looking elsewhere, fidgeting with my phone, pretending to read a text message…  The Stranger looked nice, he was attractive and in his mid to late twenties.  He had nice leather shoes on, jeans and a brown leather bag across his shoulders.  He kept on talking “You look rather troubled”, and then it evolved in psychoanalysis.  He was keeping a fair distance, and so I did not understand everything, but I started to laugh.  I laughed, not at what he said, because I couldn’t hear what he said, but at this whole situation.  I laughed that I was standing there, fidgeting, nervous because of a human interaction, I laughed that I liked someone whom I wanted/needed to run away from, I laughed that here I was in London on a Friday night, standing alone at a bus stop, avoiding a simple interaction when I came here for moments like these, I laughed at the fact that we’re all in this together.

And so I told him “My parents house got broken into, and I have no way of reaching them, I have no access to international calls from my phone. They’re in Canada, you’re right I feel rather troubled right now.”  The stranger immediately said “Would you like to use my phone?”  I refused politely, after all, he just probably felt like it was the thing to say. I would say the same, and probably would hope the person says no.  Except, this Stranger was insistent “Please use my phone. What is their number”.  And so I gave him my sister’s number, he dialed it on his iphone for me, and gave me space as I spoke to her.  My sister was shaken, scared and felt unsafe, she also told me how sorry she felt especially for our dad.  I mainly felt sorry for her, she was to turn 20 the day after.  It was nice to hear her voice, after 4 months of digital communication. I rushed the phone call, and returned the phone to the Stranger and thanked him. He introduced himself “My name is Joe” he said, I told him mine and we shook hands.  I felt very humbled by this kind gesture, and then, something so unusual happened, I spoke out “You know what, I owe you a drink, let’s go to that bar.”  But he simply said “No you don’t owe me anything.”, wished me a good night, and parted ways with me.

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