As an introvert, I don’t typically start conversations. And I almost never start them with strangers (unless I’m trying really hard to be approachable). So I’m always taken by surprise and always a bit uncomfortable when strangers start conversations with me out of the blue.
First, they may not know it, but they have actually interrupted a conversation I was already having…with myself…in my head.
Second, I find that to me personal space is more than just physical. It’s aural. And if there have been no formal introductions or good manners have not dictated the talking (as in the cases of telling to the person behind the counter your coffee order or saying excuse me when you bump into someone) it almost feels inappropriate, like when you watch that brief ungloved hand touch in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice and somehow that’s the sexist thing in the whole movie until she catches sight of Darcy striding toward her in the morning light after the countess visits her, and then they ruin it in the American version with that stupid sappy tag on the end with them sitting outside by the reflecting pool at his house…
That’s what this one is about…
Does everyone and their brother talk to you when you’re out in public? Or do you avoid conversing with strangers like the plague — like they literally might be carrying the plague and if you talk to them you’re probably exposing yourself to it?
I recently tried to switch from one modus operandi to the other. Here’s how that went…
Sunday afternoon I took in the last bits of June at Fenner Nature Center’s restored native grassland area. I strolled among innumerable flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and a few mosquitoes (They’re finally here. Hooray.) and listened to birds trilling and wings buzzing. It was the perfect summer day — the one we remember from childhood — with blue skies and time stretched out in all directions.
About halfway through the afternoon I was joined by a friend who seemed content with my company for a while.
We eventually went our separate ways, I to the pond to look for frogs and turtles, she to another patch of grass.
It was a lovely time away from people and the Internet, though I was disappointed that I could still hear traffic and some kids screaming in a nearby backyard. It has me looking forward to quiet July mornings on Lake Louise before the campers drag themselves out of bed and hiking through Pigeon River Country State Forest in October with my sister.
I asked my husband if he ever feels the pull to be completely away from people and all people-related things. He never has that he can recall. If I don’t get that kind of alone time in the natural world, I start getting anxious. We are both reluctant suburbanites. He would prefer to live in a high rise in New York or Chicago or Boston. I’d prefer to live in a log cabin on a remote island off the shore of Lake Superior. The day after I shot these pictures, he and our son spent an impromptu day in downtown Detroit, riding the People Mover and checking out the skyscrapers.
When I think about it, this is practically the only difference between us anymore. We’ll have been together 20 years this October (since I was fifteen), and in that time we’ve grown up and into one another so that we really are one, as we should be. Our culture so prizes individuality that I think this notion is rather quaint these days. But when it works, there’s nothing better.
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