Open Hand

We met – and made friends – with a single hello.

It was freshman year at the University of Asia and the Pacific. We were both part of a talk being conducted by the Balanghai (an Opus Dei center) for the top thirty entering female students of 2009. The meeting-place was the ALB pond, and we were the first ones to arrive.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” I said.

We talked adventures and spelunking, and the friendship – or should I say, sisterhood – was carved in stone.

Today, we met for a four-hour date – our first in roughly six months, maybe our second or third in almost two years. Seeing her was a jolt of joy, and the familiarity of her hug, another.

Despite that, choosing to be myself fully was a definite, deliberate choice. For most acquaintances that I meet after a while, I automatically revert to the self and personality that I was when they’d last seen me. This is because they would probably be more comfortable that way, and usually I don’t particularly mind if the relationship does not deepen.

Meeting someone you were extremely close to is the scariest thing on earth. You know you’ve changed, you’ve probably both changed. Would the changes be a uniting or a splitting factor? What if their new them doesn’t like your new you? What if your respective changes interfered with your communication? And as the fear and paranoia accompanying such a train of thought grow, the decision-making grows a hundred-fold harder. Do you dare entrust the new them with the new you?

 I could withdraw part of my craziness. I could hold back opinions and stories. I could ‘test the waters’ first.

Cynthia Voigt’s Dicey’s Song talks about the importance of reaching out with an open hand. You give of yourself first, if you decide to reach out at all. And either your hand gets slapped back, or the other takes it. And whatever happens, you can’t stop reaching out, and the hand must always be open.

So I reached out, and she squeezed my hand, and I recognized my sister again.

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