From “I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times” by Mónica Guzmán
Let me tell you about the night I finally started to fall for Seattle.
I’d been here all of nine months, and though I loved the city’s culture, its weather was another story. I was twenty-four, struggling to develop my new tech beat at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and winter was coming – a mix of wet and gray that kept my head down, my days short, my shoes soaked, and my new life much harder to adjust to than I’d thought.
It’s so cliche for newcomers to resent the rain. But I hated it.
One night at a bar called the Crescent Lounge, I got to chatting with a guy named Loren who’d grown up here. He learned I was new in town, and, inevitably, he asked what I thought about the weather. I told him, bracing for the usual “You’ll get used to it “ platitudes. He paused, glancing up from the karaoke binder we were flipping through. When he hears the rain on the roof of his car, Loren told me, he does something unusual. He’ll have turned off the engine by them, having arrived where he was going. But before he raises the hood of his jacket, opens the door, and steps out, he sits back in the driver’s seat, closes his eyes and listens.
As he told this story I could sense it. The warmth of the car. The crinkling of his jacket. The drumming of the rain. It’s soft, the rain in Seattle – persistent but gentle. When it makes itself heard, it’s actually pretty rare. I imagined turning off the engine of my puny silver Hyundai Accent and finding the rhythm in the steady downpour.
“Rain has an aural beauty,” he said. “That’s why I love it.”
Then boom. Just like that, the idea that rain is awful – the weight of it in my head, at least – was gone. I felt this sense of space, a lightness that caught me off guard, like someone had opened a door in a stuffy room, but I didn’t know the door was there, and I hadn’t realized the room was stuffy. Passages in my mind appeared out of nowhere and I wanted to revisit things I thought I knew and are now,,,different. Is the rain awful? It’s kind of nice to have green grass all year long, and all these cozy coffee shops. The gray sky is whiter, really, and bright, and it shimmers. And that sound? Like music,
I looked out the window to the headlights climbing up Olive Way. Rain streaked the glass, and I caught myself wishing this wasn’t a loud bar so I could hear it. My eyes were wide. This all happened in an instant.
I looked right at Loren, my mind still racing. I would see him again, here and there for another couple years. But even after we lost touch, I still remembered him for this game-changing meeting of perspectives.
“I never thought of it that way,” I said.
That’s what I call the signal: an “I never thought of it that way” moment, or an INTOIT moment. That phrase describes something amazing. Catch yourself thinking or saying it, and it’s the clearest sign you get that a new insight has spanned the distance between someone else’s perspective and your own.