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I think people really want to love one another. I think that’s all we really want to do. It’s what the good people want, anyway – the ones you want to hang out with – not the psychopaths or corrupt politicians.

It’s a great, lifelong struggle, though. It’s hard to love people. People that aren’t your family – people you haven’t lived with your entire life. It’s hard to get to know someone to such a great extent that you feel like you know them, that you can trust them. It might take months or years before you can love a person. Or, maybe you just can’t love a particular someone. That stuff happens, too. It just doesn’t work out – you don’t get along well enough, your personalities clash, you don’t think the same things are funny, your world views are too different, you like different music – whatever.

How much do you have to know about a person before you can love them? In any sort of relationship – friends, in-laws, romantic partners. Can you ever understand a person enough to love them? Won’t they always be able to surprise you, to hurt you? Do we even understand ourselves? Maybe not. Maybe you don’t understand why you didn’t laugh at the cute Starbucks barista’s joke even when you thought it was funny. Maybe you don’t know why you averted your eyes when that black-haired girl was looking at you in the hall.

Maybe you don’t really have to know a person to such a great extent in order to love them – maybe you just need some level of basic understanding, some I-get-you.

Yet, how do you come to love people – come to understand them – when they are so far away? There is such a great divide between people. It’s hard to bridge that gap. It’s hard to be brave or foolish enough to do it. And yet, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to ask someone how their day is going – it’s even easier to simply make eye contact and smile. It’s easy even to walk up to a stranger and ask them if they’d like to have coffee with you sometime.

Why is it that what we want most is to love each other – to understand, to support, to be happy together – and yet it is the hardest thing to do, and the easiest? Is it all really so complicated? Have we just made it complicated? Why? 

We are all interesting, unique people, with dreams and plans, things that inspire us, things that motivate us, things that make us cry. We are all so together here on this planet, and so alone.

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So there I was, wandering around in a slightly unfamiliar building on campus, searching for a lady I was supposed to be meeting. (Spoiler Alert: She had forgotten about the meeting and was already at home with her children as I circled the first floor, searching for her – someone I had never met or seen before.)

She was late. Or, was I in the wrong spot? I thought we said we were meeting at the chairs in the front lobby. But, maybe to her, the front lobby is what to me is the back lobby.

I wandered around. I went to the back of the building. There was a lady sitting there, who looked like she could be who I was looking for. I still had my doubts, though. We said the front lobby, right by those squishy chairs! She must be talking about the same place as I am. Maybe she’s just late.

I walk past the lady sitting in the chair. No, that can’t be her. My eyes search among the other people sitting around the high tables and chairs of the school’s cafe. I make eye contact with a black-haired boy sitting against the windowed-wall.

I don’t look away. He doesn’t look away. It feels like I know him, though I don’t know him. He looks at me like he understands. It doesn’t feel like I am looking at a stranger, though I am. I could walk over to him and it wouldn’t be weird. Instead, I walk away.

I go back to the front of the building. No one new there, only a few high school students still waiting for their parents to come and pick them up. (Yes, there is a high school inside of my University. It’s where I graduated from.)

I check the clock on my phone. She’s almost 15 minutes late now. How long should I wait? Maybe she actually forgot.

I check my email. Nothing. Where is she? I wonder how much longer I should wait for her. I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever – 25 minutes. How much time does she need?

I wait. My mind wanders to that boy. I should have went up to him. I should have said hello. I should have asked him if he felt the same way – if he felt like I wasn’t a stranger, though I was.

I wander around the front lobby, as if changing the location of my body, and my line of sight, will make the woman I’m waiting for suddenly appear. It doesn’t work.

I decide that I need to double check that that woman sitting in the back lobby isn’t actually the lady I’ve been searching for all along – I’m trying to be professional, here. I don’t want to leave without making sure. I don’t want to leave her sitting there, waiting for me.

I walk back around to the area where she’s sitting. I walk in the same direction around as I did before, intentionally avoiding the place where the black-haired boy was sitting.

The woman is still there, sitting, reading something in a folder. This could be her, I think.

I walk up to her, a stranger. She looks up at me as I approach.

Are you M.?, I ask. No, she says. Sorry, I say. No problem, she says, and smiles.

I walk back to the front, passing the boy again. We look at each other. I do nothing. I walk away.

Back in the front lobby, I’m about ready to leave, though I still have some hope that the lady I’m looking for will appear.

She doesn’t.

I leave.

I exit the building out of the back door. The boy is still there, watching me. I ignore him. I can’t do anything else.

As the door closes behind me, I think of him. Who is he? Why is it so easy to look him in the eye? That doesn’t happen very often. Why didn’t I say anything? Of course I didn’t say anything.

Later, I wonder. Our eyes keep meeting in my mind. I remember only his black hair, and his eyes, and how he looked at me, and how I felt. I remember how he was sitting alone in the cafe near the window. I wonder who he is, where he is now. I wonder what would have happened if I had been brave enough, or curious enough, to walk up to him. A stranger. A stranger who didn’t feel like a stranger. A stranger with the eyes of a friend.

1. Where’s Monaco? I think it’s by France. Or maybe it’s in France. Or maybe they just speak French there.

2. The next time you see someone you don’t know, go up to them, introduce yourself, and ask them how old they are. Let’s get over this whole my-age-is-my-secret crap!

3. Girls! Why are so many of you so pitifully needy? That’s not attractive, and it makes me hate you a little bit. Stop.

4. Has anyone else ever thought about how weird wisdom teeth are?

5. Why do we name hurricanes? Isn’t that sort of the same as giving a serial killer lots of media attention?

6. When people die, newspapers usually give them a one-liner obituary. A lot of the time it’s something like, “Betty enjoyed knitting.” What will your obituary sentence be?

7.  Are “hipsters” even a thing anymore?

8. Can we all just be honest with each other and talk about how ugly TOMS shoes are?!

9. In novels, there are flat characters and round characters. The same goes for real life. Are you a flat character or a round one?

10.  If someone tells you that they don’t like an idea that you have – even if you think it’s really great – accept it. Move on. They don’t like it! End of story. What are you, an only child?

 

This post is about boys, and music.

Recently (the past two days of my life), I worked the Merch table for this guy Josiah Leming. He had two shows in Michigan, and I sold his Tees and stickers and CDs, etc, for him while he was here. It was a really cool/great experience: getting let in (for free!) through the side door (or creepy dark alley,   whatever the case might be), getting to hang out with Josiah, meeting fans who appreciate his music like I do, feeling like a part of something really amazing (if only a tiny, brief, part).

During my time working at the shows, I began to notice something.

When girls go to a concert/show to see a band/singer they really like, they dress nice. Right? Yeah. That’s an obvious statement if you’re a woman, or just a slightly observant human being. Why? Well, because they probably want to like, talk, to the band/singer, and/or get a picture, and even if they don’t plan on doing those things, you know, that band/singer might like look at them, and they want to look good if so.

But that’s not the only reason. You, yes you, think that by looking really cool/cute/sexy, that person will know you. Or, that band/singer will notice you. They’ll know that you’re alive. They’ll see you, only you, out there in the middle of the crowd, or when you go up to have them sign something, and they’ll see you.

I saw this desperation. I saw all the skirts and makeup and smiles. I saw this yearning for something more.

And it killed me! I couldn’t stand it! Was I doing that, too? Was I just another girl who thought she was important to these people in some way? That because I was selling shit for Josiah, or smiling at the really attractive drummer, therefore I meant something to them, automatically? That we were buddies?

You know, band members are, like, real people.

So – you know that guy friend of yours, who you’ve known for a while, and you had to like, build a relationship or friendship with them, and that took time, maybe years, maybe months? Remember how you had to get to know a person over a period of time, and your friendship or relationship wasn’t formed in four minutes of talking and smiling and looking pretty?

I know, I understand, why people do this. Because you wait so long to see this person/band, you follow along with their career, and their Facebook statuses, and their tweets, and you kind of feel like you know them a little bit. And maybe you do. But most of people’s lives aren’t posted on the internet. Between each tweet, they are living their life. They are doing things, and going places, and meeting people, that you don’t know about. At concerts, or shows, they are doing their job, and you are just their customer. Honestly. They love you, they appreciate you for coming out and supporting them, but not as the person that you truly are. They don’t know you! You don’t know them! You can smile, and wink, and hand them your number on a scrap of paper, but that doesn’t change the facts. You can’t become a part of their world after one night, after four minutes (or, for me, after two days). It takes time to build relationships. It takes time and effort from both sides.

Fame is so strangely one-sided. It has to be, by definition. Maybe that’s not fair, that they can be so exclusive. That’s how the world is.

How about when you talk to a stranger on the street, say hello, or that you like their shirt – and then you leave them. They’re gone, out of your life. But it doesn’t bother you, does it? You didn’t know them before you met them. You didn’t get all dolled up for that one minute meeting. It didn’t matter so much to you.

I’m not saying that there’s a cure for this. This is what (partially) makes concerts so popular to attend, so exciting. The chance. Finally! This person/band will get to meet you! There will be a moment in their life where you were in it, where you stood next to them as they signed your shirt, as you took a photo with them with a group of your friends. There will be photographic evidence, and memories! Who knows what could happen?

I got to experience so many of those four-minute-moments first hand. I saw all these lovely people wanting something more out of their concert-going experience. They wanted understanding. They wanted attention. They wanted relationships (of likely varying degrees).

But concerts aren’t magical. Not really. What they are is really talented people showing off their talent and having a good time, which can easily be confused for magic. Those things you want out of concerts? You are not going to get them. Not totally. Not satisfyingly.

It’s best to just enjoy the music.