Soirée

It was an odd ensemble of people from every walk of life with very different personalities, and for many of us, the only thing we had in common was this opportunity to meet each other for the first time all in the same place at the same time. We knew about everyone, had interacted directly or indirectly with each other in virtual spaces, but now we were getting to know each other in this added dimension, part of which were up-close-and-personal face-to-face and peripheral nonverbal cues. In some cases, webconferencing connected us and kept us in touch with the here and now on the other end, but only a slice of it. In this get-together we not only had a viewmaster perspective but a wider panoramic and a clearer surround sense. We were at last sharing, for example, the scents and tastes of these hors d’oeuvres, and the tactile hugs, handshakes, cheek kisses or the physical touch of caring looks, depending on our comfort levels, cultural awareness or just what greeting felt right when we happened to approach one another during the course of the night.

I mingle from small conversation group to another introducing myself and inquiring who others are when necessary. Some here had preferred to use avatars and slowly I was becoming acquainted with real names, matching them with faces and their online identities.

Each person becomes more interesting as I learn more about them. What others offer in our dialogues creates a more complete picture who each person really is. We all had been honest but selective in what we shared online. We continue to be truthful, but here we are more open. Posts and online discussions gave us glimpses, but for the most part, we were unaware of our behind-the-scenes reactions and opinions. Finally, we are drawing back the curtain a bit more to reveal who we all are. To people looking from the outside into the platform, we all are heavy hitters, influencers, die-hards. We are the ones who keep discussions going. We each have our engagement tactics, those techniques to attract attention or to involve others in topics we care about. We support new and promising concepts and boost confidence to encourage wary newcomers or anyone putting themselves out there with what is for them a daring contribution.

Throughout the soirée I know you are in the other room. Every once in a while I hear your voice rise above the crowd.

After a lifetime of making a move I had hoped you’d come to me, but as the hours went by and people started to leave, the party winding down, I came to the realization I had a choice to make:

  1. go to you and introduce myself

or

2. wait a while until time ran out and I too needed to leave without meeting you.

“Stay,” a voice in my head kept saying.

The groups got smaller, separate chats merged and soon I was in the last remaining casual conversation besides the one still going on in the other room.

Then, I can tell people there are moving towards us, and that includes you.

Of course, my scaredy heart starts to betray me. In that instant, you and I snare glances of each other, and somehow you know my nervousness and as calm as your smile appears, I know yours.

I hold to my show-no-fear appearance, but you recognize my tell.

The eye contact is only momentary and I return it to my friend now talking in my circle.

I feel a tap on my shoulder and see a familiar face.

“… I’d like to introduce you to …”

I only hear fragments of what the intermediary says. I look up and can’t look away.

Look innocent.

We’re never talked before.

I may be crazy.

This is the dilemma when you’ve already formed a relationship with someone, and no one else knows except the two of you.

While apart, while in the company of others, we dealt with hiding out-of-the-blue expressions and emotional outbursts: the quiet chuckles, the laughs, the wide smiles, the crying for no reason, the sudden intake of breath when some extraordinary sensation came over us from elsewhere… from another.

A spacetime ripple causes butterflies.

Science and society play catch-up while we reminisce.

You lean down as I lean up. I tentatively touch your left outside bicep as you do the same to mine. You kiss my left cheek as I kiss yours, and you whisper so only I can hear,

“Hi.”

And I whisper with my inner voice,

“Hi.”

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This work is under creative commons licensing Attribution Non-Commercial Modifications With Credit Share Alike 4.0 International

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