"I" is for Intimacy

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

I discovered this morning that it's only 1/3 of the way through the A-Z Blogging Challenge, and I've already shirked about every real adult responsibility in my life. "Dana, did you take care of that insurance thing?" No, but I sure got my blog posted. "Hi… were you able to call the bank and get the new address to mail our house payment?" Seriously? Get off my back, I was b-l-o-g-g-i-n-g.

Ahhh… the charming enthusiasm of a new blogger. Anyway, please forgive the lateness of this blog post; I'll try to get my act together and be quicker with the drudgery of real life so I can resume the early morning posts. 

Many of you probably looked at the topic of this blog and got excited. Oooo… intimacy! Dana's going to be blogging about sex. While I'm sure the actual topic of this blog will disappoint you, I'd like to make a case for the other kind of intimacy for which I am grateful in my life.

Intimacy is different from an intimate relationship. As I was thinking about possible "I" words that would fall under my theme of gratitude, I chose intimacy because it's more than friendship but can also describe even a brief encounter that leaves you feeling uplifted. Avoiding intimacy would be like refusing to drive a car for fear of a wreck, or unwillingness to smell a rose because of the thorns. The point is that yes, intimacy exposes your heart to the pain of others--but it also invites you to their triumphs and blessings.

I am grateful that I know stuff about my friends. When "B" went in for surgery, her husband had me on standby. When "M's" surgery went badly, I was the first person his mom called. When "R" went through marital turmoil, when "H" got a book deal, when "S's" mom passed away, when "T" needed prayer--they thought of me. How. Lucky. Am. I?

I get close to people. I've been told I should not be this way because I take on the pain or burdens of my loved ones. Wouldn't it be so much easier to stay aloof and avoid negativity? I think not. As Garth Brooks sang, "I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."

And the dance, my friends, is what makes life worth living.

Intimacy. For some reason, I invite it, and I am not complaining. One year ago, I was sitting in a Starbucks in a small city called Pismo Beach, where my daughters and I had gone for Spring Break. They went to get some sun and left me alone to work. Laptop open and ready to write, I couldn't help but notice the blaring Spanish music coming from the laptop two tables down. The woman sitting with it was busily writing in a journal. At first, I was disgruntled because how dare she invade my silence in a noisy public place? 

The song played on infinite repeat--I knew this because it played so many times I nearly spoke fluent Spanish by the time I'd finished my venti mocha. As it turned out, however, I actually began to enjoy it; I didn't understand the lyrics and was able to concentrate on what I was writing because it created a soothing background noise. 

Shortly before I started singing aloud, the woman asked if I would watch her things while she went to the restroom. Of course. When she returned is when I was faced with stranger intimacy--which has become my favorite right after friend intimacy. Here's how it went:

"Is my music bothering you?" she asked with real concern in her eyes.

"Me? No, of course not!" I smiled, deciding not to tell her that I'd initially wanted to report her for disturbance of the peace.

"Good. It's a love song," she began in the broken English of a person who truly wants to learn our language but can't quite cut the ties to her homeland. "But I'm sad about losing my best friend. To me, this is about her, and I'm writing a letter to her to apologize."

My eyes widened; I felt a story coming.

"Do you have a second?" she asked. "I'd like to tell you about it."

I'm not sure if anyone else gets this sensation, but I suddenly felt like I was exactly where I needed to be in that moment. She stood in front of me in that Starbucks and told me the circumstances surrounding her "breakup" with her best friend, and I listened. I happened to have a scriptural message on a Post-It note stuck to my laptop, and when she finished, I handed it to her.

"Maybe you need this," I said. "You seem like you're trying to row your own boat. Do you believe in God?" I asked. She said she did, so I told her to trust Him and allow Him to help her with this problem. She read the Post-It note I handed her and she began to cry. We talked for a while longer, then she returned to her notebook and laptop and continued what she was doing. 

A while later, my girls came to get me, and as I was packing up, the woman walked over and handed me a piece of paper with a handwritten note scribbled in her charming broken English. "I don't write very good," she said, "but I hope you can read this." I reached for her and we hugged. Two strangers, likely never to see one another again, but I wanted her to know everything was going to be OK.

When I got to the car, I read her note, which was adorably written in the same broken accent as her speaking voice:

Thank you a lot for this few minutes you have spend with me allowing me to share with you this what matter inside of me, and thank you for uplifting my heart. Thank you so much: You are right I'll allow God to be driver in this. Best, Marta

That is intimacy. This is an example of the poignancy and emotion that comes from making yourself available to others. To feel as if you're in the right place and that another human has benefited from your existence, whether she is a stranger, family member, new or old friend--you have made a difference. 

It's a darn good feeling.