The joy of missed connections

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

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I’m not sure why I find Sophie Blackall’s illustrations of Missed Connections so joyful. There is something bittersweet about these missives, written with the knowledge that recapturing such an evanescent bond is deeply unlikely. And yet, there is joy in the moment of connection, the feeling of some tiny but important event between two people. It occurred,(something anyway), it can’t be undone, and maybe, just maybe, it could change both lives forever.

The moment becomes aesthetic when we look at the charming, quirky details people remember about each other. The noisy tambourine and green skirt, the blue hat, the hula hoop, the fear of birds. The aesthetics of missed connections are a study in that which stands out from the rest of the gray city, things which disrupt our attention, make us look and, more often than not, give us a sense of joy that sticks in our memory, at least for the short-term.

For me, the greatest joy lies in the naked hope people display in these postings, believing that the world is full of gifts that come at unlikely moments, and that there’s no shame in believing they’re meant for you. City life is full of guarded, careful interactions. Missed Connections are an oasis of vulnerable openness and optimism, and even if their subjects never reconnect, I love that someone is bringing them to life.

July 23rd, 2009

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