No, it wasn't a prank.
Lonely women were the only people home in our apartment complex during the days when I was homeschooled.
When they answered the door I politely asked if they wanted to talk.
Most of the time the ladies would invite me in.
They would offer me dry cookies or hard candy and tell me stories about their grandkids.
Sometimes I would leave with treasure: foreign coins, stamps, rocks, or a book of matches for my various collections.
Eventually I realized that talking to old ladies isn't something kids do.
I became cautious of adults, suspicious that they didn't really like kids very much.
I felt like I was being watched, judged by foreign eyes behind closed curtains.
I learned to step around manicured lawns, and avoid eye contact with elders.
I haven't knocked on a stranger's door since.
“Find someone different from you. Be polite. Listen and learn. You will almost always walk away with a treasure.”
For an introvert like me that is tough advise to swallow made even more difficult by the fact that it once came so naturally to me.
Today when my doorbell rings I get defensive before I even know who is there. A salesman? Did the neighbor kid kick a ball over our fence? How dare they invade my bubble. Real people would call, text, or message me online. Everyone else is an outsider.
I can go weeks without making contact with anyone outside my small circle of friends, family, and co-workers. Heck, I struggle to connect with people I do know.
I know that if I were to take the risk, to extend a hand outside my comfort zone, to connect with people different than me, my effort would be rewarded.
But I don't.
I lock the door, close the blinds, check my phone, and hope the kids stay off my lawn.
Thanks for reading, stranger. I keep a comfortable distance from you by writing stories like this every Saturday. Follow me and let's pretend to be friends. Stay creative.