August 19th, 2006

mask, pensive, portrait

Clicking

doseybat posted a thought-provoking poll about "clicking". It is something that happens to me quite a lot, finding that I feel close to someone within minutes of meeting them for the first time, and skipping right over the small talk and getting on to the interesting conversation so quickly it seems almost supernatural.

I'm not really keen on the explanations that doseybat suggested in her poll; mystical explanations are generally a cop-out, and reductionist explanations like depends on biochemistry/physics don't really help either. I mean, of course, all human behaviour depends ultimately on biochemistry and even more ultimately on physics, but that's not a useful level of explanation for "how does this particular aspect of human behaviour work?" In this particular case, becoming friends with someone faster than it would seem that you've rationally had time to know enough about them to be able to decide whether you're compatible.

It's such a joy when it happens. I mean, becoming friends with someone is always wonderful, but when it happens really really fast, it's easy to experience it as some kind of externally caused magical thing. I think sometimes it's a case of lowered inhibitions, that you meet someone at a time when you are feeling emotionally vulnerable and need to talk about some dramatic experience, and if you tell a total stranger something quite personal and they listen sympathetically, that can be a very bonding experience. But that's definitely not the whole story. I also don't think it's really connected to sex; instant attraction or even love can happen, but it's a different kind of instant connection from clicking.

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Right now I'm in the process of clicking really intensely with ploni_bat_ploni. She very graciously invited me to her Friday night meal last week. I was deeply impressed at her hosting anything at all within less than 24 hours of arriving in the country, and that was a successful dinner party by any standards. It helps that her guests, some of the crowd from Paideia, are a fascinating and delightful bunch of people. I think ploni_bat_ploni is possibly more outgoing than I am, which is pretty unusual. And of course lethargic_man's good reports had primed us to like eachother. We ended up having one of those conversations that are impossible to end and I got home way later than I'd planned. And then ploni_bat_ploni invited me back on Saturday afternoon, along with my friend M, and we talked a whole bunch more.

And this week more or less the same thing, except this time ploni_bat_ploni's Friday night included about 15 guests. Also, we got to the point where we in this little bubble of learning interesting things about eachother and I felt guilty that we were ignoring the rest of the company to an extent that could have been rude. We've spent most of today having more wonderful conversations about every possible topic; got hissed at in shul for talking, which is something I generally avoid doing because it annoys me when other people do it and because I actually do want to concentrate on the prayers, but we just had so much to say to eachother we couldn't shut up for the whole 2 hours of the service! And this afternoon we talked and talked and talked, not quite 10 hours non-stop but not far off. *bounce* Yay ploni_bat_ploni!

In between all this, I've been quite sociable and quite productive at work. This has led to less time for LJ, which is why I've been somewhat silent recently. Hung out with "Milo" on Sunday. He's still courting me, and I still feel like we don't really have all that much to say to eachother, but he's a decent guy and I can't blame him for trying. I think I have convinced him now that I really mean it when I say I don't want to go out with him, but we'll see.

Worky stuff: I have got the microscopy up and running and I'm pretty certain I've seen something interesting and important, though of course I need to see it more than once and run all the checks, this is science after all. But it's satisfying. And I'm just getting going on some traditional biochemistry and generally I'm happier about work stuff than I have been for many weeks. Plus, people are coming back from summer holidays so I'm getting more social interaction and more people around to pester if I can't find things or don't know how to use the equipment or whatever.

This weekend, as well as getting on marvellously well with ploni_bat_ploni, I've been feeling really part of the Jewish community. Lots of little things coming together just right. I went with ploni_bat_ploni to try out the Orthodox shul on Friday night. The atmosphere was the best of what an Orthodox service can be, everyone was both spirited and spiritual, the pacing was just right, the people leading the service did exactly the right amount of giving people guidance without showing off. The Orthodox style doesn't suit me in general, but when it happens in a really great community, it can be wonderful in its own way and last night was an example.

The trouble is that that sense of being in a really prayerful environment isn't happening in the Great Synagogue. Ideologically the community is a good fit for me, and many people have been kind and welcoming and so on. But the services feel overly formal and the congregation is mostly an audience. Undoubtedly, an audience for a highly skilled performance, but I want to be part of a community, not a member of an audience. And today somehow the atmosphere worked a lot better than it has up to now. No organ music, for a start, which is a great bonus from my point of view. Also it was an egalitarian service in practice as well as in name, which does make me feel more comfortable even though I'm surprised that's the case.

Also after the service I found I was chatting to lots of people at a level beyond the polite small talk, and every time I was in a conversation I was getting interrupted by someone who positively wanted to talk to me. And I've been approached to get involved in the traditional Egalitarian sub-group, and the Progressive sub-group. And there are a bunch of old school European intellectual types who have a sort of salon thing Saturday afternoons, and they've taken to inviting me to join them sitting in a very posh café having deep intellectual discussions and generally acting as if we were in pre-war Vienna or something. So yay Jewish community; I can see this is going to work even if it's taken a while to get to this level of comfort.
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