“I decided I would always opt for expression over perfection.”
— Yo-Yo Ma
A month ago, I met a girl. She was tall and slender, with olive skin and straight black hair. I don’t remember what I said to start the conversation — some throwaway line about the wall art probably — nor do I remember precisely what we talked about for the next two hours. What I remember best is the expressiveness of her face, how quickly her features could display one emotion after another. How can one not feel deep, deep empathy for someone sitting four feet away and replaying the highs and lows of her life like some kind of emotional syndication?
She told me today, “If we were at a party together, I would be nursing the same drink all night talking with you. We would probably be those people talking in a corner so engrossed in conversation, others would watch and wonder what could possibly be so interesting.” There’s no exaggeration in that statement. When we met that night at Dunn Bros, I noticed the baristas paying special, confused attention to us.
This isn’t the first time I have felt like I had a deep connection with someone after our first conversation. And you know what’s funny? None of those people are in my life anymore. In fact, all of my closest friends were people I didn’t like at first or, in some cases, actively disliked. (Or vice versa. Actually, much more vice versa. I’m not sure what it is, but I have a talent for making people dislike me.)
People have been telling me recently that my standards are too high. I’m not inclined to see this as a bad thing, but I do think it’s incorrect. It turns out, I’m not picky at all, at least not in the way some people are about their French fries. (Okay. I am definitely one of those people. But who likes soggy fries?) If I am to date someone, they must have these characteristics: I must find her attractive; she must be kind and spiritually mature; she must be passionate about something; and she must be athletic in some way. You’ll have a hard time convincing me those things are too much to want.
But that does leave the lingering issue of connection. I sat behind a couple at Film & Theology that made me momentarily forget all of my cynicism towards romance. They weren’t just watching a movie but interacting with it and with each other. Maybe they have a connection that some people will just never have. Maybe theirs is something anyone willing can attain. I’m not sure. But I have learned to be suspicious of the kind that came quickly, since it has always left just the same.