January 19, 2009
I hurried in from the cold rain, soaked, shivering.
The entire place was empty but the waitress seated me next to your group;
Loud, boisterous laughter, sipping coffee or tea, pontificating.
I really had no particular place to go that night, or any night.
As I listened to your stories, I was slowly drawn into your web.
Maybe you noticed me listening with my glances and expressions.
Then you asked me my opinion and it seemed natural to roll right into it.
I had already been thinking about my thoughts on your subject.
I was already snared but did not know it yet.
As the night unfolded, I was wrapped in your bubble of warmth and laughter.
It had long ago stopped raining and the shivers were forgotten.
My clothes were almost dry by the time I left!
Many memories may fail me, but that evening was one of those permanent memories,
Like sticky notes on life. The one on the fridge that says, I am not alone.
You heard my stories too.
As we changed over the years, aged, many of us had the same stories to tell.
Our lives were forever changed by each other. We were in a bubble together,
sheltered from the rain. What I did not know then, was how these bubbles are made. Life is full of them. We are part of them. We are in and out of them and in several bubbles at once. But then the bubble is larger. Warmer. More humane.
You told a story the other day and we all laughed so hard. I realized that I knew this story before the punch line, because I was there. But I still anticipated the ending, reveling in the knowledge. But it wasnâ€™t just a story. It was lives we were talking about. Our lives. And then I realized that it wasnâ€™t the individual stories that mattered so much. Oh they should be heard. Like you, I am an individual in my own individual ownership and responsibility for my own life and experience, and I have a unique view. But these were shared experiences. That means that I was there also and had responsibility to each of you for your experience, not just for mine. It always became much bigger than the me, myself and I. And that meant something. That mattered.
I donâ€™t have a clue what I was doing out in the rain that night long ago. When I came in to get out of the rain, and dried out in your bubble, you were all there too. That you remember well. You told this story many times since, from other perspectives. But, itâ€™s not the stories of individual that I remember, itâ€™s the shared ones. Stories are always better when experienced. Because those are memories of our shared lives, how we pass through changes together. We were there on that rainy night, in our bubble, together. I remember it well.