intimacy is a strange and unpredictable thing. i don't know if it's something we share in as willing participants or if it's something that happens with or without us. it can be as simple as a confession to a stranger, a moment as vulnerable as it is ephemeral. it can be as complicated as family. sometimes it's as plain as day, but more often it bears the guise of the quotidian. and so it is that acquaintances and colleagues are transmuted into friends and family.
a couple apparently random events in the past week seem to have conspired to remind me of this.
it started with an email on monday with new pictures of the kittens i'm going to adopt from the local siamese rescue and i was reminded of "the thing about cats" by john l'heureux:
cats hang out with witches quite a lot;
that's not it.
the thing about cats is
they're always looking at you
especially when you're asleep.
some cats pretend they're not looking
until you're not looking.
they are not to be trusted.
some cats scowl because they're wearing imitation fur.
they feel inferior.
some cats look at you straight on
so that you can't drink your drink or make love
but keep thinking "that cat's looking at me straight on."
but all cats do the same:
they look at you
and you look out and in.
a cat is not a conscience; i'm not saying that
what i'm saying is
why are they looking?
i wonder if my kittens are going to want to climb in the shower with me like other cats i've lived with. i know they're going to see parts of me that most other people never will — the me that wonders whether or not i should put some pants on before i venture out of my bedroom to roam about my apartment, the me that talks to my plants and fishes, the me that frantically cleans up before the cleaners come because i don't want them to think that i'm a slob.
on friday, our lunchtime escape from the office (mmm.... qdoba. tasty :)) was filled with discussion over the review process. although nobody said it, griping about the forms (which don't bother to define or explain about 90% of the categories you're asked to rate your performance in and use such broad category titles as to be wholly redundant on the face of it) helped ease our shared fears that this year we're not going to measure up, in spite of all rational thought and evidence to the contrary.
after lunch, an older colleague who is usually very carefully spoken made some surprisingly frank statements of his opinions on current events. the conversation was more than just letting his guard down and speaking honestly and sincerely, he told me about how he'd been drafted in 1954 and his personal experiences with us attempts at intervening in international policy.
there seems to be a common theme: intimacy requires vulnerability and it requires trust — whether it comes from seeking and giving support (reviews), moments of unexpected frankness and honesty, or sharing our boring but private-by-default daily routines. which leads me to a number of questions: what are your thoughts on intimacy? what experiences define intimacy for you?