Two are images, or metaphors, that I've been thinking about. And one is just a concept.
Metaphor 1: Bricks and Mortar. I've been thinking about intimacy, and connection, and our capacity for it and how it works. And the metaphor I am currently using is bricks and mortar. The bricks are the chunks of stories we tell people we are close to. When you sit down to coffee with a dear friend, and you ask what's been going on, you share bricks. You talk about your family or your issues or what you're starting to realize, or what you hope for in some way or other, and you listen to your friend as she talks about her job and her husband and the difficulty she's having in her relationship with her mother. And you laugh and you offer one another advice and you ask questions and this is how you stay connected and close. These bricks are the foundation of a friendship.
But the mortar part is intimacy at another level. That's the little stuff that you don't bother to tell your friends when you meet for coffee. It's the funny bumper sticker you noticed when you were driving to the grocery store, or the fact that you bought a different brand of soy milk this time because you thought it might taste better, but it turns out you don't like it as much as the other kind, or that your shoe is wearing kind of funny on the inside of the tread, here, look at that, why do you think that's doing that? And hey, did reinstalling your operating system make your computer go faster? How long did it take to do that? These conversations aren't significant for themselves, not the way the bricks are. You might have the conversation about your issues with your boss with several friends, but you probably will only mention what you think about the different kind of soy milk to one person. And yet I think they turn out to be really fundamental to intimacy. They're about attentiveness and partnership and a shared experience, in a way that the coffee shop conversations about career or relationships isn't, really. For most of my life I've overvalued the bricks part of life and undervalued the mortar part. I'm beginning to change my worldview.
I think there are one or possibly two people in your life at any time with whom you exchange the mortar, the daily glue of intimacy. Neighbor and I walk or go to the gym together a bunch of times a week and so we tend to have both kinds of conversations, the bricks and the mortar. NBT and I have both kinds. With most everyone else my friendship is made of bricks, not mortar, and I think that's normal. One thing that I've been thinking about is how blogs figure into that. Sometimes what I post on this weblog are bricks. And sometimes what I post on this weblog is mortar.
I think it makes for an indeterminate relationship between blog author and blog reader. What I mean is it's kind of a rare blend of levels of intimacy. And of course it's one-way -- I give you my bricks and my mortar so you have kind of a solid foundation for thinking you know me, at least a little bit. But I don't get your bricks or your mortar and mostly I don't even know whether you're there or not, let alone who you are, so I don't feel like I know you, and it makes it kind of weird to think about you feeling like you know me. Which of course you do, you do know me in a way that doesn't even duplicate the relationship I have with very many people in my daily life, because of the combination of bricks and mortar you are getting.
Anyway, that's one of the things I am mulling over these days.