Quick update – I never heard back from the Greg guy. I think, ultimately, that it was meant to be a one-off experience. A really good experience, definitely, and one that I will remember for a long time ... but an isolated experience nonetheless (at least with this particular person).
True, it would have been easier to realize that had he not given me his number and then, when I called, asked me to call him later and then when I did, never called me back ever. But hey, we all give mixed signals once in a while. Still, it's a shame – I think he would have enjoyed knowing me.
ANYWAY, that whole experience (not the not-calling, but the experience of meeting him in general) and yesterday's entry about truth-telling online has started me thinking about how people interact with each other, and how often (or not) we let ourselves just feel what we're feeling, rather than trying to make our emotions and behavior conform to what we've been told is socially acceptable.
For example, Rappy posited that perhaps he didn't call because, having somehow found this website, he read my journal entries and decided I was a little too happy about meeting him. And who knows, maybe that's exactly what happened! If I go back and read the entries I can, in a way, see how the person who was the subject of those entries might – absent any other context – be a little freaked. Especially if they didn't know that I make my living as a writer, and enjoy using hyperbole to effect a certain tone in my writing.
(Although, really, I don't see how any rational person could ever take most of the things I wrote in those entries literally.)
Maybe it would have been better to say, "I met a mildly okay guy this weekend, he seems like a decent person. Yet I am ambivalent about whether or not I ever speak to him again." Hold those cards close to your chests, kids, and don't ever let them know that you care.
I mean, the movie Swingers proffers that you don't call anyone for six days, or else you look too desperate and cleaving. I can't even begin to comprehend all the game-playing bullshit that is in those godawful Rules books.
So here is what I've been thinking about – Is it better to hold your true thoughts and feelings inside and approach a situation (or its aftermath) with a purposely measured level of reticence? Is it safer to maintain a taciturn detachment from the event?
Is it more acceptable to affect the demeanor of a dead-eyed, soulless robot (like April from America's Next Top Model) rather than a smitten, giddy schoolgirl (like, well, me)?
It's just all so irrational to me. All of these arbitrary edicts, these human interaction maxims for our times, seem designed for just one purpose – to mask how we really feel about a person. To obscure and subjugate our emotions.
Why is that a good thing? Why is that a thing to be commended and encouraged? I think there is something pure and beautiful in the acknowledgement that your world, and the people who float within it, can produce bursts of feeling that are joyous, devastating, and everything in between.
Or is the denial of self – and I think that, at the most basic level, that's exactly what we're talking about here – simply a mechanism for emotional self-preservation? If I pretend not to care ... if I act like something isn't important to me and made no impression upon me ... then I won't be upset or disappointed if nothing comes of it? Tra la la *skips through the daisies*
That's just not me, I guess. I think it's incredibly important that we do recognize the impact a person or experience can have upon our lives. I'm fortunate to be at a place mentally where I can welcome the occasional disappointments, if the tradeoff is occasional periods of unfettered happiness.
I nearly died when I was 26, and if I learned nothing else from having had cancer it was that we're not guaranteed any time, or any thing, beyond right now and our memories. If that's all I have, then I want to live my life without regret. And if doing so means I make a bit of a fool of myself sometimes, so be it. If it means that I have to accept the crushing lows with the giddy highs, that's okay. I've been through the alternative, where you leave things unsaid and undone – his name is Derek Going – and I don't want another experience like that in my life.
When I told Roo that I had sucked it up and called Greg, even though I was unsure about doing so, she said I was brave. "You're my brave little toaster," she said. That made me smile. Because I'd rather live my life being brave, and facing the consequences, than go through life being afraid or embarrassed of who I am and how I feel.
I just think it is vital that, having been affected by a person, even in a small way, you let them know. That you acknowledge the positive difference, however brief, that they made. I feel obligated at this point in my life to do exactly that when given the chance. Because it's the little things, the fleeting moments, that make up the mosaic of our lives.
In my mind, that's what this whole experience has been about – being brave, and letting someone know that they meant something to me, even if that makes me seem like a dork.
It makes me think of this quote from the movie Field of Dreams: