Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mad scientist

OK. So I'm not really a mad scientist. Perhaps, that could help in the plan for global domination though. Hmmm. I'll have to consider that.

No, instead this is about a little experiment* I have been running with myself for the last couple of months. I have this way of sharing information -- with y'all, with friends, with family. I used to not be this way. Probably because I had a hard time trusting other people. I was the queen of compartmentalization because I figured the less information that another person had, the less the chance that they could hurt me.

So that's what the experiment has been about. What would happen if I held back something of myself? Something that was purely mine? Would it make any difference in my life? We'll see.

OK. So I told a fib . I had to tell someone so I chose Kate early on to be my confidante. No, I take that back. There were others in the running. Kate just happened to be the first to actually answer my call. And then I broke down and told Emerald. Because she has always been my voice of reason. She knows how to call me on my shit in a way that is totally nice. And then I had to throw in Jade for good measure. Because those three? My best friends in life. No matter how much some of them may irritate me at times, they know me better than anyone else in the world. And they're a lot better at relationships than I am. Jade? Married for almost 13 years. Emerald? Married for almost 11 years. And Kate? Getting married in June. (OK. And there are some of y'all to whom I speak offline who know the info as well.)

Two months ago I was in the middle of a much-needed week off from work. During that week, I met Dan. I told you that I decided to close the place down while Dan went home. See, this is when the experiment started forming in my mind. Because what I left out was that after Dan left, I met a perfectly wonderful guy. When I didn't include that information in that original post, I just thought, "Well, I'll say something later." And then the days started passing by and I said to myself, "Well, maybe after a couple of weeks." Then it became a month. And then finally a couple of months.

How did I come up with the magic number? Probably because it's been years since I've been able to last past a couple of months with one guy. I always find some reason to leave. Because I'm always the one leaving. No, that's not shocking to me. I recognized this ever-so-wonderful trait in myself when I was about 19 or so. Oops. I'm going to have to take that back. I was clueless and it took a friend to point it out to me. I was going on and on about the latest wretched guy and then she turned to me and asked, "But why are you the one with all the broken hearts in your wake?"

That was a huge part of the experiment. I have often wondered if my complaints are a part of the whole process -- the process that ends with me leaving. I can write whatever I want about some guy here and all you will ever know is what I choose to tell you. (Because I hear from y'all a lot more frequently than those whom I truly trust. You know. The ones who call me on my stuff. Which I'm sure that y'all would do. But in many ways you're at a disadvantage. They can tell from my tone of voice over the phone that things are not quite right.) And usually if I'm writing about some guy, it's because he's pissed me off. And then I get to hear your responses telling me that I haven't misread the situation. But then you've only seen my perspective and that's really not fair. Even though I love being right. And especially if it enables me to do what I do best -- leave. Because when y'all tell me that I'm right, then I feel justified in my choices. (Maybe my mother was a little bit right when she said that I'm passive-aggressive and like to manipulate people.) So I figured that if I could make it past the first couple of months without leaving, then I'd be doing pretty well for me. And if I did leave, then it would be purely me.

Sure I've talked to Kate but we're lucky if we can actually catch up with one another a couple of times a month. Lately with her upcoming wedding, we've been talking to each other a lot more though. And yeah, Emerald and I talk weekly but remember? She's the voice of reason. Probably why she's a scientist. She's not satisfied until she has all the facts. Because she knows that I sometimes leave stuff out. And Jade is the person who knows all of my secrets. That's why she isn't allowed to read this blog. They are the three people whom I trust the most in this world. Perhaps that's why I have had a hard time with relationships. Because other than these three people, I have never been able to trust anyone else so blindly.

So this time I went it alone. Well, alone except for those chosen few. Because I met a perfectly wonderful guy. And I didn't want to mess things up for once. And I figure that I must trust him because he knows something about me that very few people know -- something that I shared with him before I did even with my most trusted friends. Something that could have made him leave. But he didn't.

So yeah, he is younger than I am. But then months beforehand my mother reminded me of something. The guy my mom dated for the longest after her divorce -- and I gave this guy a lot of crap at first but he won me over by just being himself -- was ten years younger than my mom. After they broke up, they remained friends. Over the last few years they lost touch. This is how he came up in conversation recently. My mom was wondering how he was doing. Also one of my mother's cousins, a woman I considered to be one of my many mothers, was married to a man who was 12 years her junior. No, they didn't split up. She died in 2001. And they still loved each other deeply after over 20 years of marriage.

I guess it all gets down to that inner person. It's not a matter of age, of race. Just the connection of two people. And no, I am not completely naive. I do realize that there are things that rear their ugly heads and try to make relationships difficult. But I've made it past two months and I'm still happy. But then again, this supposed happiness could just be a part of limerence. (This is one of my favorite words from undergrad thanks to a roommate.)

But this perceived happiness? Probably because we actually have things in common. Like he works with kids. So when I talk about my students, he understands. Just like I understand when he rants on about his students. In fact one of our first conversations started off with him ranting for about fifteen minutes and then apologizing. I pointed out to him that I know firsthand what he means. And when I talk about what I want for these kids, he's just as excited as I am. Queenie has talked about this. The need for that when you get home and talk about your day, the other person understands what your day was really like.

Most days before this I felt like I should walk down the streets, singing Jill Scott's "Talk to Me."

Yet this pales in comparison to the real thing. Because in my mind I will always be waiting for Lloyd Dobler to be standing in the middle of a street while wearing a trenchcoat with the boombox held over his head. Because I am a child of the 80s and wasn't that the ultimate declaration of love from the 80s? I would never give him a pen.

And so the lesson that I have finally learned is that it is sometimes better to hold some things back for yourself. My mother was wrong. Omission is not quite the same as a lie. A lie would be saying that you're happy when you're not. And I'm happy.

And now that I'm so happy? Well, my internal soundtrack is pure Stevie these days. Although there may still be a little Jill mixed in. (And speaking of Stevie, I always imagined that if I was ever crazy enough to get married, the first dance at my reception would be to this song. Because I'm kind of a hopeless romantic. And I could dance the hell out of this song. And if this guy makes it through, then this seems more than fitting. In an inside joke kind of way.)

There was a point in all of this that I would have made a post saying, "Why didn't he call?" due to my insecurities. (I may come off as confidant but I am very insecure. I have just learned how to mask my insecurities very well over the years. Mostly I have gotten past my feelings of insecurity by reminding myself that he probably has insecurities of his own. Proof? The fact that a man whom I think is so attractive and has everything else going for him asked me, "If I gave you my phone number, would you actually call me?" And this was said with utmost sincerity.) And I would have been reassured by everyone who told me to write him off. But I hung in there. And believe me when I say that his was rough. Perhaps this was due to a recommittal once I googled him. Because then I knew he was worth fighting for. Someone had asked me during this time period what I was looking for in a man. I acted like I didn't know but I did. (Sorry to this person for lying.) When I was about to give up and call him, he magically called me. I mean the very evening that I was going to call, the phone rang. And we understood what each had been going through during that time.

And the most beautiful thing about this post? I wrote this at the beginning of the experiment when I didn't know how things would turn out. (Well, except for some minor revisions along the way. Very minor, I might add. Like removing the Jill and Stevie song lyrics and adding links for them instead. And adding the link for the second Jill reference. And the previous paragraph. That I wrote about a month into the experiment -- when I was going to call it all a vast failure.) That's right. Two months ago. And so now I am committed to what so many other bloggers are -- some things just shouldn't appear in your blog.

*To the person who tried to tell me that this is not really an experiment, I have two words for you. Bite me.

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