Monday, February 13, 2012

House Crawl

It's come to my attention that I'm a bit of a connector-type.  I truly don't know if I already knew that about myself, or if it's something I realized only after being told.  I'm running with the latter.  It feels totally natural to me.  Actually, some might see it as a sort of addiction to getting to know people.  And I often like those people I know to know more people I know, too.  Also known as bringing people together.

A boy I liked in college, whose name is a complete blank to me today..(how strange),
introduced me to someone at a party and the way he did it seemed to hit it on the nose:  He told this other person, meeting [me] is to soon feel like you've known [me] forever.  Then in a spot-on imitation he put his hand out, clearly looking for a firm hand-shake in return, and said with a big smile:  hi!-im!-molly!-meng!
I was stunned.  How had he seen that about me, I wondered?
Of course, he's so totally right on it's scary.  I wasn't doing any sort of job hiding that part of my personality.  Out loud, I pooh-poohed it.  No, not really, I think I said.  It seemed too basic.  I felt too exposed.  I'd somehow grown to think this over eager interest in others wasn't particularly a good thing.

I don't struggle with it anymore.  In fact, I totally celebrate the fact that I dig people.  I'm hella curious about people, about human nature, about what people do and don't do, and the whys and the why-nots and by the extreme cases I've never even imagined.  I dig getting to know people.  And, for me, chit-chat and small talk seems a little too surface.  I like getting right down into it.  I get it from my family.  Everyone in my family likes to talk to strangers.  And almost no topic is sacred. It's what brings us to some really great stories.

I've lived, solidly, in two buildings as an adult.  One, in NYC, where we all knew each other on a pretty open door policy, and the one we live in here in SF, where if someone comes out of the building that we don't know, we make eyes at each other and greet them with that polite but questionable 'hello?'
If you ask my old neighbors in New York what brought us together, many of them point to a fire we had early on in the building that, apparently, I insisted affected us all.  We held meetings on our first floor landing and became our own best landlords.  From there on out, I figured we were all in this together, why not live that way?
Many years later, now in San Francisco, on a warm December night, I find myself and RK roaming our building, moving from one apartment to the next with drinks and food flowing, all these neighbors now friends finally seeing the inside life of the person they pass at the mailbox everyday.  We had a house crawl!  Curiosity got the best of me (and a number of neighbors now friends) and we all agreed a house crawl seemed like a win-win for everyone. There I go again, assuming everyone wants to expose it all!
But every neighbor was a 'yes' and everyone joined in that night, mixing a signature drink and trying to keep us on the hour-per-apt. rule we tried to keep.  Hitting 8 homes in one night is a big commitment.

It's been a year since then, and we're still all talking about it.  How it was one of those magical nights that seemed like something from childhood:  mini hot dogs, funny mixed drinks, talking about all the neighborhood gossip.  That night, it did feel like we'd known each other forever.

It just so happened that, in a matter of days, one of our good neighbors turned friend was moving out and moving on.  That night, as we all stood on the fire escape and looked out over the city, he smoked his first cigarette in 10 years and reminisced about his 15 years spent in that building:  The neighbors, the friends, the stories, the time spent ended not with a firm handshake (as it may very well have started) but goodbye hugs all around and a knowledge we'd made a connection here.

1 comment:

tyn said...

I love meeting people too- my family is very chatty. I love to connect people with one talent to other people who need that talent... but I don't hang with my neighbors, and that is making me wonder.... hummmmm. p.s. I put your email in a "safe place". I just don't know where that "safe place" is. Personally I thought the middle of the dining room table would have been very safe... :)