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March 24, 2004

Brave Little Toaster

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:

"It was like coming this close to your dreams and watching them brush past you, like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it. We just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought: Well, there will be other days. I didn't realize ... that was the only day."

So carpe diem and all that stuff.

Last week I said that if I didn't hear back from Greg by today, I'd give him a second call. Then I woke up this morning and realized something - I realized that I no longer care. HA! How's that for fickle? That's the great thing about these giddy schoolgirl crushes – if you're not doing anything to sustain them, they die very quickly.

Which lets me move on to my next giddy schoolgirl crush - Associate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Or maybe I'll go back to Orlando Bloom. *swoon*

Posted by Highwaygirl on March 24, 2004 06:37 AM to the category Stuff About Me

No no no... you left Orlando and now he's MINE! *grabs*

I'm all for expressing my true emotions, whether or not I look like a flake for doing so. Sometimes I wish I had better control of my emotions, but then I decide, what the hell, this is how I am, I'm not going to spend my life trying to suppress what I really feel just to protect myself from possible embarrassment. So by now I'm pretty good at laughing at myself.

*does the robot*

Posted by: Teem at March 24, 2004 07:07 AM

That was a beautiful entry, Julie.

As for me, a lifetime of being a painfully shy little introvert makes me continue to hold personal things close to my heart and not share them online. I keep the ramblings on my site to observations, pictures and such, but I just don't feel comfortable wearing my heart on my sleeve. Yet.

Posted by: rappy at March 24, 2004 09:43 AM

First, I agree with Rappy -- wonderful entry.

It's funny because this is an area where Teem and I -- despite having so much in common and having been friends for so long -- are so different. I'm definitely more of a "hold things close to my heart and not let them show" person. Just in the last few weeks, I've noticed myself doing it over and over again with the Boy of Potential. Why do I have such a hard time telling him how I really feel when he's so damn good at it?

In a large part, I think it's an act of self-preservation. If I don't let on how I feel, it no one else figures out how much I have invested in a person or a situation, then they won't realize just how hurt I am when it doesn't work out. I sometimes pride myself on keeping a cool, calm exterior and not letting things get to me, but in the end, I think I'm doing myself a dis-service. Because if I don't leave myself open because I'm afraid of getting hurt, it also means that I'm not open to having something wonderful happen.

I'll shut up now :)

Posted by: Nancy at March 24, 2004 10:09 AM

Nancy is so me.

Posted by: rappy at March 24, 2004 01:54 PM

Beautifully said, Julie. As always.

I don't know how to respond...I'm closer to the Nancy/Rappy side, though I have gotten braver and more open as I've gotten older.

I just remember how easy it was when I finally met Mr. KC to express feelings and stuff to him. And him to me...and since it's against both our characters to do so, it was a good sign.

Posted by: Ka Ching at March 24, 2004 04:22 PM

I for one think you said it marvelously. I was only out of the dating game for 10 of my 53 years so have loads of experience. It's his loss but hey maybe he was playing on a different team. Keep writing the way you feel.

Posted by: chribj at March 27, 2004 12:25 AM

You *are* my brave little toaster! That was a beautiful entry, Julie. I battle my emotions a lot. Sometimes I share things, but most of the time, I just put on a happy face. Masks are not healthy to wear all the time. Unfortunately, I've gotten pretty good at it. *sigh*

Posted by: Erika at March 29, 2004 12:48 AM
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