She arrived early to meet with the group. It was a group for a thing she liked to do. It was a hobby she preferred to do alone, but accepted that external inspiration was important, so signed up for this group.
She liked to listen to others in the group talk about this thing she liked, because they all liked it too, and it filled her with happiness. She liked to have the buzz of excitement swirl around her while not feeling obligated to contribute.
She liked when the exhilaration infected her with an uncharacteristic eagerness to speak aloud. She’d hear words escape her mouth, in a tone that wasn’t hers. She felt thrilled to be this other person, yet contempt to return to who she really was when the moment was gone.
She liked walking away, exhausted and stimulated. She felt covered in a social grim that, although was fun to roll around in, needed to be scrubbed clean with some solitude and silence. She loved having that experience to relive and analyze freely in these times by herself.
She liked all this, but none of it was her favorite part.
Her favorite part of meeting with the group happened before the meeting started. It was pulling up in the lot a half hour early, into a parking space next to another group member who was also a half hour early. She’d look over at him, through her layers of glass and his layers of glass, and nod hello.
Then they’d both sit and wait, listening to their own music or reading their own books, and keep one another company without closing the distance or breaking the silence.
Being in the presence of someone who likes what you like and not having to say a word to acknowledge it. That is the moment when you feel both alone and connected. The moment when these polar sensations somehow exist at the same time, each one accessible, like a warm and cool breeze coming from opposing directions, giving the option of leaning toward either at your leisure.
This is what she loved.
This was her favorite part of that day.