In line today at one of my favourite coffee shops, I spotted a woman that I know in line not far behind me. We exchange friendly hellos and how-are-yous and went about our coffee-shop business. But I felt a knot in the centre of my stomach beginning to form that informs me that all is not well.
The backstory... Previously mere acquaintances, this woman and I were brought together some time back by external forces that quickly neceessitated a more intimate relationship... the kind that happens when unexpected life challenges occur. We stayed connected and supported one another through this difficulty, but over time, as circumstances settled, we went back to our lives, only bumping into one another periodically.
I had sensed awkwardness in these occasional interactions, but always opted for a smile and implied reassurance of my appreciation and support for her. But really I knew it wasn't enough. The knot in my stomach had been there each time, encouraging more from me. But truthfully, in those moments I had yet to summon the courage, nor acknowledge the now obvious necessity to step through the edges of my own emotional/mental construct... through the social constructs that separated us... and reach out to her in an effort to investigate the cause of the intuitive knot gripping me from the inside. And even more honestly, I thought I was just too busy to stop what I was doing for the few minutes it might take to show up a little more and meaningfully reach out to her.
Today, as I stood with my delightfully caffeinated and milky beverage, I saw her shift awkwardly, demonstrating the tell-tale signs of the same knotted feeling I was experiencing. Yet she looked committed, as we had before, to just ignore it... to let it go... to rationalize that the knot was the result of having been unexpectedly emotionally exposed to a near stranger during a particularly personal experience. I had been committed too. After all, the knot only lasted while we were in proximity, and if we could manage it we would be blissfully drinking our lattes in no time.
But something was was different today. Today I felt unsatisfied with what would now be the third somewhat inexplicably awkward experience with her, in addition to finally seeing clearly the pattern of intuitive nudges I had been receiving each time I saw her (third times the charm!). And so, taking a deep breath, letting go of expectation or agenda, and internally summoning the courage to move through the implicitly agreed upon energetic field that separated us, I committed to something different.... to break the spell.
This time, as we neared, I looked deep into her eyes, and from the deepest parts of my heart asked, "How are you.... really?"