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Intersections: navigating the human streets

Laker Notes

MYSORE“Watch for the intersections,” my dad tells me, as I drive jerkily through a stop sign. I am currently learning how to drive. (Yes, I am quite the late bloomer, but I sincerely believe that the late bloomers are the special ones. Or at least, they make for meticulous drivers.) So far, I’ve learned more about people than driving from the wise streets.

Intersections occur more often than we think. They are not particular to the paved roads, and in fact take place in our daily lives.

The other day, I was in the elevator of a building and a middle-age lady stepped in. She wore wide glasses and a multicolored scarf. “Hello,” she said. “Hi,” I said back. I pressed the button to the third floor. She pressed the button to the second floor.

When we reached the second floor, she stepped off the elevator, and thus ended our interaction. She went her way, and I went mine, and that was that. But this brief interaction prompted me to think: How often do we step off an elevator without a second thought?

By this, I mean that we have become so conditioned to focus solely on where we’re going and what floor we need to reach that we seem to be our own stop signs, our own red lights, when it comes to conversation.

I find myself thinking too often about what I should say or shouldn’t say and where the boundaries — the double yellow lines, if you will — are in a conversation.

I have learned to smile politely at the woman entering the elevator, and to stay silent until we both reach our respective floors. I have learned to talk with my peers — my friends, even — on a surface level, for fear that what I might say will be construed as “wrong” or “strange.”

I think we need to stop falling prey to the boundaries of human intersection. We need to be more open with people — people we love, people we dislike, people we perceive to be different from ourselves.

Lake Oswego is a beautiful place, but it is often called “the bubble,” justifiably or unjustifiably so. I do not know whether or not Lake Oswego is a “bubble” in the intended sense of the word, but I know that people here, and people everywhere, can be more open, more willing to let themselves cross invented intersections.

It is immeasurably difficult for students in high school, for example, to unlearn categorization, but I hope it is something we can strive to do. I hope that someday, we will find this incalculable openness within ourselves that overpowers our fear of crossing barriers. In other words, I hope that one day it will not seem out of place to witness a conversation between two students, two people, with starkly different appearances, interests, backgrounds and lives.

Of course, I am not advocating that you walk out onto the streets and hop into a random person’s car, but I am encouraging all of us to become more open.

At the end of the day, we all have stories to tell, and I want to hear yours.

It is wholly possible to see the intersections and savor them. I think we will find that something wonderful happens when we surround ourselves with people we never thought we could surround ourselves with. I think we will understand that we are not that different after all.

The next time you hit the road, watch for the intersections. They can make a normal day interesting, for you never know who might cross your path.

Meghana Mysore is a senior at Lake Oswego High School and the new Laker Notes regular columnist. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..