October 14, 2002:

Let's play a game.

What I mean is: follow a protocol which strictly structures our interactions according to agreed-on rules.

Game: This is our first meeting. We have no prior history. We're introduced as, say, friends of a mutual friend. "I've heard a lot of good things about you from X."

Rules: This is a new beginning. There will be no references to any interaction before the start date of the game. We'll agree to a certain number and type of interaction in each time period, say, three emails, a phone call, and a lunch each week. Lastly we'll agree to play for a certain duration, say, three months. Within these boundaries we'll simply be ourselves, and we'll look at each other with the most unbiased eyes we can manage.

On the surface this may seem loopy, but, there's truth to it. We can't know what people we are now. By acknowledging that fact we strip the past of some of its power. We'll eliminate all of its power if we succeed in forming a new and meaningful friendship.

-------- Analysis --------

My friend Hunter uses games in a similar way in her practice. Here are some excerpts from her essay, "Re-inventing Relationship as a Game":

What if a relationship were no more, and no less, than what occurs in the process and space of two or more people relating? What if we could make it up however we want? What if, instead of trying to fit ourselves to a pre-existing shape, we designed a container exactly to the specifications of the people who would inhabit it? Why not create a relationship as a "game" instead of playing out the usual drama?
A game is something that is played on a defined field. It has boundaries, limits, and measures for success (number of times around the bases, number of strokes to get the ball in the hole, etc.). It has agreed upon rules and a time limit or some way of determining that it is over, and time for a new game.
I am Game if you are.