It is entirely possible that I have become the annoying stranger bulldozing polite social boundaries. Or put another way, I am exuberantly friendly with important gems to share...
Sitting in a waiting room, I catch my seat neighbor pulling out an Anna Quindlen book. Looking down, I bite my tongue until self-control slips under the chair and I lean over to proclaim my love for said author. And before I know it, I’m jotting down other favorite ‘must-reads’ for her and trading thoughts on past loved pages. Ah, my job is done. Reader gold star for Lauren.
Apparently, she missed my inappropriate social behavior, and we continue to chat amidst the much-appreciated ultra air conditioning, covering preciousness of the library, tips on parallel parking, cheaper parking lots, book clubs, and our growing displeasure with doctors who triple book. By the time my name is called, Roz and I are now well acquainted and on our way to best buds.
It’s partly a sickness; this welcoming enthusiasm that nabs innocents and displays ‘potential friend’ signs in neon above random strangers’ heads. I’m sure that the guy buying milk doesn’t always want to strike up a philosophical debate. Or the dog walkers who are just looking for a quick potty trip rather than a budding connection.
However, I would rather live in a world with too many smiles, extra ‘good mornings’ and friendly waves. I would rather hear the tips and recommendations, the secrets of the city, and get the added bonus of a distance shortened; the isolation ebbing back to reveal kind hearts and gentle footsteps. Given the choice, I’d opt for occasional annoyances if it meant more bodies without masks and a corner of the world where I feel at home.
So I pass along the crossroads of the best dog park, and trade gardening tips with my upstairs apartment dweller. I nestle into my community, and collect compassionate hands to hold and faces that mark the familiar. And if the friendliness turns sour and boundaries are crushed, I hope that they will remember my face and choose another seat the next time...
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