I started my morning today with a friend who told me the story of a man she’d recently met in a local photo shop. They started talking cameras and ended up talking about friendship. It was one of those simple moments in which we make a connection with a perfect stranger that stays with us, even days later. Not a romantic connection, but the kind of connection in which there is a recognition of a similar way of thinking, of a similar wanting in this world, of a similar desire for human connectedness. Some might call it a soul connection.
As I drove to work, my mind played with the kinds of moments I’ve shared with strangers. Some are very simple, others life-changing. In some of those moments, I am convinced that the other person shared the experience, but in others, I suspect that I passed through their life with little impression or impact. That doesn’t, of course, make those moments any less special to me.
Hours later, driving home from work, a song cycled through my iPhone and I was reminded of one such moment that I shared with a man, 20 years ago. At that time I was barely 23-years-old, working in the British music industry, promoting artists to radio and television outlets. It was late afternoon on an early summer day, and I was backstage at a radio station-sponsored charity concert, supporting one of our acts. They finished and filed off the stage, grumbling about their performance (and granted, it wasn’t their best). I murmured words of encouragement and offered hugs, then turned to follow them out of the stage area. As we moved, single-file, the next band was coming on, single-file next to us in the narrow, short hallway. From a short distance, I made eye contact with the other band’s singer. We locked eyes, holding the gaze as he walked past me, so close I could smell him and see the flecks in his eyes. As I passed, I craned my neck to hold his gaze, and he managed to turn himself completely around in the tight space, guitar in hand, watching me move away from him until his bandmate shoved him onto the stage. As he struck the first chords on his guitar, my colleagues and I stepped out the door, into the blinding sunlight, and away from him. I’d never seen him before, and I never saw him again. But 20 years later, I still remember that moment.
Now remember, I was a young American girl in the British music industry who favored body-hugging catsuits and thigh-high boots. Turning heads backstage was not an uncommon occurrence in those days. But that moment was different. Deeper. Special somehow. What was it about him that arrested me in that moment? It wasn’t his good looks; he actually wasn’t the physical type I went for back then, and I’d never given him a second thought, despite the fact that his band was splashed all over magazines and tv in Britain at that time. No, as I looked into his eyes, I felt something different… a pull… a desire to sit and talk to and know this person. Likewise, in his eyes, I saw not the simple, hot, predatory hunger of lust that I was used to, but a kind of…. recognition… surprise… attraction. Later, his band skyrocketed to fame and had two gigantic hits stateside after my return. But to me, he’s always been a pair of hazel eyes in a dim hallway.
Life is made richest by those precious, unexpected moments of connection. Some are shared with people we already love, when we discover a new intersection of understanding or shared passion. Others — and in many ways these are the more delightful — are shared with people we barely know. They are reminders of interconnectedness, of the fact that we are not alone in this universe, small islands merely bumping into each other as we navigate the physical world.
I have very few of these moments these days. My life is so constructed as to limit the opportunities for me to meet new and dynamic people. Sometimes when I think of how many of those moments I experienced in my 20’s, I want to go back and shake that young woman. I want to tell her how much rarer those moments become as we age. I want to yell at her to turn around and talk to that young man backstage, to wait for his set to end and him to come find her. I want to inform her that those are the moments that change our lives.
Then again, my life in my 20’s was very different. When I was living in England, I was surrounded by artists of all kinds — musicians, actors, painters. Their way of looking at the world challenged me and pushed the limits of my creativity. I spent most nights in nightclubs and recording studios, often not arriving home until noon the next day. When I gave that up, I plunged myself headfirst into law school. Again, I was surrounded by people who pushed me, scared me with their intellect, and forced me to debate and defend my beliefs. Those two periods of my life were very different in so many ways, but shared a vital similarity: I was open and curious and hungry for the world around me in my 20’s.
In some ways, I am still that young girl. I am still emotionally and intellectually curious. I am still intrigued and arrested by dynamic people who can blow me away in one fashion or another. But age has bred caution, and knowledge, and a certain disappointment in human limitations.
Even so, every once in a while, I am still blessed with one of those perfect moments. And now, the awareness of their rarity makes them all more sweeter.
Someone asked me today what I want most right now.
Moments. I want moments.
11 responses to “moments”
I was told by someone once that when you have one of those moments with a strange they are actually someone you had a connection with in a past life.
At the risk of engendering the disdain and annoyance of many of my readers, I will tell you that I happen to believe that, Carrie. You know that moment when you meet someone, and you just KNOW them? They are comfortable and a good fit right from the beginning? I think those friendships represent bonds made hundreds or thousands of years ago. And I think sometimes, when the person is of the opposite gender, we mistake that connection for something else.
My ex-husband and I definitely had a moment when we first met. But i realize now that we should have been the best and closest of friends and probably nothing more to each other.
But we are imperfect humans, stumbling through this world,seeking connection, without a full assembly of tools to interpret and understand those connections….So, I guess we just do our best, right? 🙂
I like the idea that some or all of us might have had some past life/lives. As you say, it could explain so much about how some young kids seem to be so…old, and so wise for their age. It would explain some of those moments where we feel like we just *know* that person. Whether it be a fantasy of our imaginations or something real that we can’t lock onto, I don’t care — I like the idea.
Yes, the nearly-instantaneous feeling of knowing someone or being connected to them is one of life’s sweetest little miracles, isn’t it? I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know it’s a universal experience and that it feels special to all of us. Must be something there….
Who was the band? (and what was his name? :lol:)
Haha! 🙂 I just knew someone would ask! I’m not naming the band, but his name is Justin. From what I hear, he’s still playing, but not with the success they had in the mid-90’s.
Well, then there’s still hope that he is reasonably normal and would remember you at a concert………. 😉
🙂 Tikk, you’re sweet. But these days I’m doing my darnedest to look forward and not back…
I don’t see it as looking back as much as bringing out the best of what’s made us who we are. 😉
Funny thing is, Tikk, that I don’t know Justin at all, BUT I could really see myself connecting again with someone from that period of my life. I think it’s because I was most purely “me” then. I lost myself later and as I circle back to myself, I keep bumping into that girl that I was and wishing for people like that. Two of my bands are doing a big reunion tour in the UK this May and I wanted so much to go… just to surprise them and be “us” again, but I simply can’t afford it with the unexpected bills I’ve been hit with lately. Still, it’s fun to dream…. 😉
It is, lol. I don’t see anything wrong with pulling from the times we felt we were at our best, or our happiest. All of those points make us who we are, in the present, so I’m not sure it’s actually looking back as much as focusing on the parts we want to highlight.
Life does move on, of course, but we’ll always have those parts with us. That totally would have been a blast, though! Sometimes it sucks being an adult.