The other day, I went to the auto parts store to get a crescent wrench and an allen wrench set for some bike repairs. As I walked through the “magic” automatically opening doors, I saw someone I met in jail looking at some oil filters or something. I looked at him in disbelief for a second, and then I wondered why I was in such disbelief. This city is not so large that I don’t randomly meet people from time to time. In fact, it happens quite often.
In this particular case, I felt an upwelling of emotions. It’s hard to describe, but it has something to do with the experience that we shared. That was an experience unlike anything I’d heretofore lived, and I realize now that a part of me wanted to compartmentalize a lot of how I felt during my stint in there. I went up to the gentleman, and we got to talking a bit about our lives and our current situations as if we were old friends who met after a long hiatus. We walked and talked as I went to the aisle where the tools I needed were, and talked some more while we walked to the register (since he already had what he needed). We separated to go to different cashiers, and as I left I put a hand on his shoulder and said that it was good seeing him, and told him to take care of himself.
What a random meeting that was. I felt both comfortable and strange around him. There was something that we shared that made us friends, but friends for only a certain time and place. The memory of those times changed both of us (I think), and we have since moved on in our lives to different things, and we seemed to leave the frienship/relationship exactly the way it was. Yet, the shared experience remains, shaping us in similar ways, and we will always have that in common.
It was actually very important for me to see him when I did before I compartmentalized that whole experience in my subconscious and blocked it far away in the back of my mind. The experiences I had throughout my life should be far more accessible, so that I might use them to better ends. Too often, I’ve experienced similar situations multiple times, but because of the way I think and hide things in my subconscious, I end up making the same mistake over again. I hope that I will eventually learn to be a little better about that. But, as GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” I know now, and hopefully will learn to not hide that experience in my subconscious.