It’s an odd experience to meet someone for the first time… again. This sounds like an oxymoron–it actually is–but I nevertheless have learned it to be a very real phenomenon. Odder still it is to see that, while you may have known someone for years, you may have yet to really meet them.
An old friend of mine of about five years has recently been reintroduced to me. This person may very well read this one day so I will remain unspecific; we met when we were at our most… unfortunate age. Teenhood not even having breached the horizon, I’ll say that the age of cellphones found us too early, and I think we may have found each other too early, as well. Preteens do not realize they know very little of love, which is why no one really counts their middle school relationships later in life when they recall how many people they’ve dated. It’s all silly; you only speak through a screen, and you don’t even realize that you don’t know each other in the slightest.
Seeing each other here and there for a time of five years never really held much substance, but we didn’t notice this. It appears to me now that there had always been something holding us back from really speaking to each other, the number of exceptions startlingly small. The few that there were, however, gave me glimpses of what a real friendship could look like between us. But still, distance always wedged itself between us again–whether it be due to certain circumstances or just our own apathy.
We have seen each other again–are seeing each other again, though probably only for a short time–and we remembered with unsettling surprise that a full year had passed since the last time we’d spoken in person. I noticed immediately that there was something weird about our standing; as we continued to talk, I realized how much I didn’t know him and hadn’t known him the whole time. It was as if I hadn’t looked him in the eye a single time before, and his personhood had been overshadowed by such a level of superficiality that I only knew how to talk to him, not what to talk to him about or what I thought about the things he said. And all of a sudden we’re here, speaking with no fog around us.
This entire experience has shown me something; how many people have we met, and how many people do we know–how many people do we think we know, and how many people have we truly met? In this age of texting and social media, how many of our relationships are superficial? It is so easy to be around someone–to get from them social comfort or something else selfish–and not realize that we do not really know them–or like them–at all. How many amazing friendships have we missed out on because we didn’t want to deal with something a little more difficult–something uncomfortably real, intimately honest, or unconditionally true?
I’ve learned slowly not to waste time within superficial relationships. This does not mean that I remove my friendliness or that I even become dismissive of others; it only means that I prioritize the actual relationships which are lovely by themselves, not by what they can give me. You meet someone, and then you meet the person they are. These are two different events, and many relationships never pass the first step. This perhaps may happen out of neglectance, or because there is nothing leading the two people to a bond; nevertheless, the relationships that do not naturally grow to the second step are most likely not best for you (notice how I said not best for you; this does not necessarily mean they are bad for you). Life is much warmer when you are very close to a few people, not when you are surrounded by a circle so big that you are isolated in the middle.
It is a strange thing to meet someone for the first time again. But in this, I’ve realized that I had never really known that person in the first place, and I am now seeing them rather than just looking at them.