Remember those days in high school and college when the subject of chemistry meant class labs, homework and tests? It was an elusive subject for my creative mind. I never excelled at calculating moles or figuring out why one metal didn’t mix well with another. It was the one subject even a tutor couldn’t help me.
Chemistry was my nemesis.
Strangely, it remains as elusive to me now as it did in school–but in a very different manner. Its not about action and reaction in a lab, its more about what occurs between two people when they meet. Its that instantaneous feeling of attraction or repulsion. It can happen anywhere at anytime–like in line at Starbucks behind someone you have never met. You’re in line for a coffee and a scone and suddenly the person in front of you turns and looks you in the eye and suddenly the air in your lungs evaporates and you feel as if you’re connected to this person by a thick, invisible rope. The temperature somehow rises between the two of you and you feel a woosh as he walks past you to wait for his order. That is pure chemistry. Its the law of attraction. Somehow the ions are working to pull you both together even if you don’t acknowledge it.
Although we consider chemistry as attraction, it can also work as repulsion. Maybe it isn’t so much repulsion as it is a lack of chemistry. I’ve experienced this on many occasions when I would meet a blind date who I enjoyed via emails and maybe telephone calls only to meet in person and feel–nothing. It was confusing and weird. Even with job interviews, I would be completely excited for the interview only to meet the hiring manager and have absolutely no chemistry with this person. It was so disappointing. However, I’ve learned to listen to my instincts and my gut and trust that lack of chemistry.
The times I’m pleasantly surprised with chemistry are the times I remember the most. When I was looking for a place to live in San Francisco back in the early 90s, it was one of the worst, most demoralizing processes I had ever been through. I interviewed with over 40 different people for a roommate situation and nothing was working out. Finally, I found a place and the woman chose me because I had no furniture except my bedroom furniture and since the place was a small two bedroom, it worked out. It took me six months to find a place in the City and I was exhausted. After two months, my roommate decided she wanted to move out of San Francisco and I had to go through the whole process again but this time I got to interview people and choose. Only then did I realize it all came down to chemistry. It wasn’t that I didn’t like anyone I was interviewing–I liked a bunch of people. However, it was Rachel who stood out the most–the one person out of everyone I clicked with the best. I chose her and she lived with me for five years and we are still friends twenty years later.
Chemistry can also be that person you meet and judge quickly as someone you will never like only to have a conversation later and realize this person is and will always be in your circle of best friends. That chemistry was always there, it was just miscategorized.
What’s strange is when chemistry sneaks up on you. Its not the full fireworks when you meet but its a tiny flame that ignites later only to grow more intense the more you see each other. That’s the tricky kind of chemistry because you might not even know its there until you kiss this person and suddenly what was a little tiny flicker is now a full blown fire. Its confusing, yet its joyful because it is a pleasant surprise.
However, this kind of chemistry is the hardest to overcome. It might take a little longer to flame, but it also takes a lot longer to put out. Maybe because it burns hotter at the core? Fireworks often burn bright and fast, but burn out really fast. Its hard to keep that chemistry going for the long term. The slow burn is the one that never seems to go completely away.
While I enjoy the quick chemistry that explodes, I prefer that chemistry that builds because it keeps the infatuation factor at a distance allowing me to learn about the person in a more unbiased manner. It takes time and it takes more of an effort. However, when that chemistry does show itself, its true and its genuine. Its going to cause a reaction that I can trust, I can rely, and I can relax and enjoy.