Do you ever strike up a conversation with a stranger, realize you have everything in common, then interview them for your blog? I thought so. This brand of crazy is an epidemic, and I am so excited to share the tribulations of encountering random-acts-of-greatness out in the world, with you. This week (or was it last month?), I went out dancing and met a dude with a pocket rock and a story. *cue Law & Order gavel knock* THIS IS THAT STORY.
So, my friend Joy and I (you will meet her on here eventually, as she has a brilliant mind and vivacious soul to match) go to East Side Stomp on an average Friday night. We show up early to take a crazy helpful lesson on alternative swing-out techniques beforehand, and that's when I met Aaron.
There were only about five couples at the lesson, so all the leads and follows paired up and rotated partners with each new technique. By the by, swing dancing- highly recommend. Anyway, we're going through the motions, and I catch myself pulling a dancing No-No: I am not looking at my partner. Instead, I am maintaining an unbroken stare with the wire-wrapped, glassy, black rock suspended from a chain that my partner is wearing. I seized a break in the routine and struck him with my burning question, "So, what kind of rock is that? Does the kind of rock matter?"
Aaron, unphased by the abruptness, thumbed the bronze wire-wrap and said, "Oh, it's actually a whole story." I HAD A FEELING. After the lesson wrapped up, I met him in the back row of seats, by that door they leave open to air out all the sweaty dancers -seriously though. We made small talk for a few minutes about...I dunno coffee, probably, and he asked, "So what's this about wanting to interview me? What did you mean by that?" I whipped the Notes app open in my phone with the languid practice of a perpetual student. "Yes! Please! See, I have this theory about people and rocks, and I like to ask about rocks that I see and then write it up on my blog. Do you mind if I take notes while we talk about your rock and the story?" His response to the word "blog" was a good laugh and an even better tale of pocket rocking.
What's the story of your pocket rock?
"Ok, so it was a gift from my friend Tanis. He and I met in middle school, playing World of Warcraft online. We never actually met until I moved out here, and actually that was the same trip when he gave me this. Me and Tanis were best friends for about four years, starting in middle school. Even though he lived in Texas, and I was in Florida, we were always online at the same time, and you get to know people like that. Plus, I was depressed and so was he. It was one of those things where we both wanted to talk about our depression and we also got along, so we kept in touch into high school. After that, Tanis went into the military.
That was pretty fitting for him at the time. Tanis was always very militant and aggressive. Angry. That's one of the things we bonded over- being angsty depressed teens. But then he enlisted and I didn't hear from him for years. When I did, it was because I saw on Facebook that he announced a move out to Washington. I didn't know what I was going to do after high school, but I was already planning a trip out here to see what it was like and consider taking a job. So I hit him up. It was like he had never left, or maybe that we had kept in touch since high school. He was just as awesome, but a lot more chill. I planned the trip out here, and a week after I left Florida, I met him at his house.
Tanis let me stay for about four days, and in that time we just did everything together. Tanis showed me around his friend group and local hangouts. I slept on the couch. All of his friends were total hippies, and he had long hair. Some of his gang wore their hair dread-locked, their fridge was small but stuffed with organic vegetables, there was always incense burning and people would come over and just sit around talking about the vibrations of crystals. They had something like a drum circle in the basement, and he just invited me right in. It was a completely different Tanis than I knew when we were younger, but it was also weird because we'd never really met before. I had all these ideas about how we would get along because he used to be so serious. Also, I was a bit of a jack-ass when it came to hippie stuff. When Tanis and his friends first started telling me about their crystals and spiritual theories, I instinctively shut them down with a harsh comment or skulked away into the corner to avoid having nothing to say to them.
Turns out, I was totally wrong. After a few days, I really connected with my old friend as, like, a new and more complete friend. I told him about my life, we cooked meals together, and I told him how nervous I was with this move out here. He understood, and didn't mind my attitude before I finally came around to his way of looking at diversity. Before I left his place, to make it the rest of the way here, I told him that I had sensed a change in myself, and thanked him. See, I am smart enough to think that because I think I understand something, that everyone else's way of thinking is wrong. That makes me superior, and then I don't have to care what anyone else thinks.
But, I cared what Tanis thought. We can't not care what people think, so really, I was making myself miserable with this approach to people who have different perspectives on life. He and his friends we just so calm and accepting of whatever I wanted to believe, that I began to see how the people who follow a different view on life than myself are some of the best people I have ever met. Maybe will ever meet. They were that wholesome to me. Tanis wasn't upset when I told him that, but suddenly became overly excited and the next thing I knew he had given me this thing. I don't know what kind of stone it is. I never asked. I guess it would be helpful to know, because then I might remember what he said it was supposed to do for me. All I know is that it was somehow important to him, and that it had been wrapped in the wire by another of his people.
So, I carry this because it reminds me that being superior is not the way I want to be. Although, it usually feels like the safer option in social situations. Everyone has something to offer, and when I wear my beads and my big rock, it tends to draw people's attention. I like it when people ask me about these things because I'm usually not forward enough to say something to an interesting person without an ice breaker. Tanis didn't give me anything else before I left, just this. I'll see him again the next time I'm down that way, and we'll probably talk about rocks, and growing our own food, and how his band is going to take off. You know, I'm not a total hippie, but I feel like Tanis and this rock got me one step closer to being one.
Um...Does any of that answer your question?"
Yes, Aaron from Swing Dance, it does answer my question. After I finished misspelling every other word in the transcription of the above story, I offered Aaron a protein granola bar from my jacket (#bepreparedtosnack) and we hit the dance floor.
We are in your coffee shops and tea bars. We are in that rando ditch by the highway that's directly underneath a pyrite-baring cliff face. Pocket rocks are a thing & they are a corporeal manifestation of the shared human experience. They are physical reminders of connections we've made and reasons to share with one another. It's a Pocket Rock Revolution, ladies and gentleman and smizmars, and it's coming for you!