A chance meeting, an unfamiliar place, a strangers face. You find kindred spirits in the strangest of places. Or at least I do. Or have. Or am… I digress. Conversations with a stranger leading to talks with a friend. A polite handshake turning to familiar hugs goodbye. The tip of a hat to a kiss on the cheek. Talk to you laters and see you next weeks.

I myself am horribly introverted. The occasions above trigger within me an anxiety like no other. The words ‘we’re going out’ create an instant physical chaos that wreaks havoc on my senses. My heart starts to drum- pulsing in my ears loud enough to drown out the details of our outing. The walls around me start to inch inwards and the ceilings start to spin. My tongue dries and throat tightens. My palms are damp and the tiny muscle at the left of my nose begins to twitch; look close when I am nervous, the barely there spasm gives me a mouse like quality. The Gods choosing to pair it with doe-brown eyes is almost comical. Almost.

Sometimes, I imagine myself a rabbit, or a chipmunk. Big round eyes, nose twitching, ears perked and muscles tensed- the smallest disturbance able to send me bolting into traffic!

Back to my point.

I detest going out. Anywhere I must go where there may be people I am unacquainted with, or surroundings unfamiliar- I hate it. Before the journey even begins I am resigned to the fact that I will likely be disappointed in the events that follow. And usually, I’m correct in my assumption. Usually.

But we’re not to that part yet.

The first thing I do when I enter a new space is take inventory of the exits; my possible escape routes. The second is identify anything that could, if needed, be used as a weapon to assist in facilitating said escape. The third is to identify a spot (normally against a wall, near an escape route) where I may stand, or sit if appropriate, that is out of the way of others. I do not wish to be underfoot. If I am lucky, I am able to pick a location where I may even go entirely unnoticed! Only occasionally do I find myself stationed in the place I have picked. And as of yet, I have not needed to utilize any weapons.

Usually, I am to be found slightly to the right and a step behind my fearless extrovert of a husband. I respond politely to conversation aimed in my direction; and I do not run towards danger to escape. Usually, I am content in my position, content in my role. Usually.

But now and then, whether it is because I am feeling uncharacteristically confident or because he uses the voice to ‘request’ I do so, (if you know, you know), I take a risk. In spite of the terror rising within, threatening to rip me apart from the inside; I speak to someone. And now and then, I am pleasantly surprised.

On those such occasions, I find that someone thinks me interesting enough to converse with me at length. And on those occasions I leave whatever event I was coerced into attending with a feeling of… elation? On occasion I even look forward to attending the next event.

The thing is…even though they illicit a response of terror in me… I love people. I love getting to know them, hearing their stories, learning about their lives. I love figuring out who they are and how they view the world. I find people fascinating. And desirable. Not necessarily in the traditional sense of desire; not always in the way of sexual excitement- though for the sake of honesty, sometimes that is the case. I desire them in an intellectual way. I desire them the way I desire new books.

I want to devour what is written in their histories, and mannerisms, and habits. And ever so rarely I find commonality in the minds, stories, desires and spirits kindred to my own. Ever so rarely conversations with a stranger turn into chats with a friend. Ever so rarely a polite handshake leads to a familiar hug goodbye; the tip of a hat becomes a kiss on the cheek, a talk to you later or a see you next week.

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