Crossing Paths

It is only week 3, but it feels like a lifetime.

Not in a bad way – not at all. It just doesn’t feel like only three weeks have passed by – somehow, it seems like so much more time has passed, as it’s impossible so much has happened in such a small amount of time.

The thought struck my mind this past Thursday, when I was walking through town. As a bit of background for you: I already hold honorary status as a “townie,” aka a member of the Gettysburg town, due to the multiple circles of friends I hold from working and staying in Gettysburg for my entire college career. I know people outside of the college, I run into them constantly, and it’s a bit peculiar for a student at this tiny microcosm of a school. But when I was walking down the street, I saw a familiar face up ahead: not one that I worked with, or who I met at the Parrot (a local restaurant – don’t ask), but someone I had bonded with at Circles over Shepherd’s Pie and discussions about DAPA, at ESL over language barriers, and at the Painted Turtle while weeding away our Monday evening. She was toting her two kids – one tagging along at her side, the other in a stroller – and wearing a brilliant smile. Our exchange was brief, each of us greeting one another in the other’s first language, and continuing on with our walk through town. But it was different, for some reason, than all my interactions before. Better, almost.

When you meet someone through work, one of you is the new employee. At least one of you is trying to put on a certain impression, reflect an image of themselves they want to be perceived. And the rest of your interactions with one another build off of that – how you initially project yourself. But at these programs and places, those sort of barriers and walls we are able to build are unable to keep strong when you walk through the door (or gate). It’s as if by entering these areas, we are already bonding over something: be it vulnerability, a love of fresh kale (not me – but hey, some people are into it), or a desire to meet and cooperate with individuals from outside your usual circle. At base, we knew who each other was – we knew that we met through a common yearning to sacrifice our time to work with others towards a common goal, in all areas in which we met. And that knowing, that experience glimpsing into the deeper portions of the other’s soul, altered our entire interaction. Somehow, it was able to make it all much more genuine that the typical, forced polite greeting to an acquaintance you cross paths with. And I can only wonder what our interactions will look like by week 8.

Jade Kling ’17