We sat in a circle, debating, talking, philosophizing. We were nameless strangers, together by chance, with the rare opportunity to discuss politics and religion and morality and money without making our mothers cry. One spoke up and said, by the way I think homosexuality is a choice and if homosexuals are discriminated against they get what they deserve because god doesn’t approve of that. And the girl on the left visibly shuddered, she had tears in her eye and I could feel her story moaning.
I’m not a relativist, but I am trained to understand cultural context and know that the one who spoke up is a product of socialization and environment and personal struggles, just as the girl on the left is. But maybe because I don’t know the same God, I can’t help myself and voice my disagreement. (I’m never as articulate in these moments as I want to be. Afterwards, I think of all the things I should have mentioned, the big words and short sentences I should have used).
The girl on the left’s teary eyes find mine and I hope it means she knows I am forever on her side.
Later, after we had talked our tongues into exhaustion and the tension had become thick like American arteries and we are gathering our things, readying for our different realities, the one who first spoke up eyes the notebook I chronically scribble thoughts in: can I take a copy of your notes? I’m surprised and maybe flattered? I look at my notebook, a handmade, pretentious thing with lines that my pen can never follow — at the doodles and love poems to lunch I had written next to quotes and BIG ideas from our meeting. I feel naked and exposed.
I tear the page out and when I hand it over our fingers brush, and I hope it means we are on the same side.
For some reason this is the most alive I have felt in ages. Someone I fundamentally disagree with on at least seventeen topics has just collected a small piece of who I am. What happens with that piece is none of my business, but maybe our stories will change each other’s. There is power in colliding narratives. I walk away relishing in our vulnerability. To be able to disagree and still see each other’s beating hearts gives me hope for humanity.