19 February, 2008

no. 14: alright, I get it

The universe has made it very clear to me that, where some people get things handed to them in particular directions, and some in others, I have an interesting path to walk.

I've always worried that I've taken the easy route through this whole school-university-life business... But even the easy route teaches lessons. And what the easy route has taught me is that I need to not take things for granted. It has also taught me a lot about what appears to be easy is actually anything but when you get right into the thick of it. There's a lot to do in the middle of easy, and whether it's exciting or drudgery, it must all get done, even if you start off not knowing what you need to. So, the life-school easy route is one thing. All my school/job decisions have been easy ones, and if I've sold myself short or overstretched myself, I've always learned from it and gained experience from it, in order to make better decisions in the future. What hasn't been easy is the rest.

I'm 25, relatively active and healthy-eating, but definitely more sedentary (and a little to piggy at the (even the healthy parts of the) buffet) than I ought to be. I've paid for that in some respects, though recent doctor's visits suggest that I'm moving in the correct direction... except that it's not enough to be gradually reducing one's BMI to the below-25 set. There are other things that determine one's health. Things like recurrent long-lasting headaches, and alarming optometrist reactions to views of my retinas... And even though the opthamologist I met kept saying I was a healthy, "not morbidly obese" (not obese at all), young woman, those words aren't reassuring when something is wrong... only I don't know what that something is just yet. And the fears were brought forth with the words of my GP. Things like pseudotumor cerebri (excessive fluid on the brain) and Multiple Sclerosis are not ailments one often likes to think of in the midst of the twenties. And not that I know what I have, if I have anything, the string of tests and scans to which I will be subjected should hopefully point in some sort of direction... even if that involves an eventual lumbar puncture or other medical treatment. This, while not being easy, is difficult only in the sense that I need to learn to cope with it, since I cannot perform a CT scan on myself, nor any of the other tests etc. that I must undergo.

What is being VERY difficult right now, and difficult in a way that is entirely up to me, is my, uh, personal life. Now, I'll be the first one to admit, I don't have much of a personal life. Yes, I have a whole raft (or, well, a nice raft armada, really) of friends, but friends are one thing. I cherish them all dearly, and value their presence in my life like I value that of water and my favourite fresh fruits. But they are not exactly the people I want to take home and snog. Well... not most of them at any rate. And this is where the difficulty begins.

I have a friend I'd like to drum up the courage to say that to... the "I want to take you home and snog" part... and I am (drumming up the courage)... excruciatingly slowly. Snails move faster than me. But I also have a friend who I think would like to say that to me, and I REALLY don't feel that way about him. Not one iota. Perhaps once upon a time in our 5 year friendship I might have been directed towards those feelings, but now is not that time. And as I like to think, but haven't said, that ship is not even in harbour, forget setting sail. hell, I don't think the ship ever found harbour, it was blown off-course a fair bit too early.

So, I did what any well-meaning person whose forgotten the taste of stuffing their foot in their mouth does. I said something. Not to the one I want to snog, THAT would have been a good idea. No, I said something to the one I don't want to snog. Well, okay, it's a little more sticky than that... a good metaphor would be that of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby**, in which Brer Rabbit encounters this character whose impassivity bothers him to the point of altercation and eventual self-tarring. Not that either of us are guilty of impassivity in this case, but instead that the altercation has left me further embroiled in this stupid lump of tar and turpentine. Further than I ever thought possible. Because he's a friend I'd like to keep as a friend, I deal with fairness in information-giving. When one asks, I usually answer honestly, even if the questions are uncalled-for or off-base. So he asked me if I was having a CT scan... I said yes. Rather private personal health information, but he asked, so I answered. And leading from there, I became standoffish and defensive and really did the body language thing to say as much too (short of just getting in my car and driving away, which I should've done.). So I later e-mailed him and called him out on it. (hello Tar Baby) He apologised for it, and made note of some distance I'd created between us, and cited my recent medical adventures as the likely and understandable source of that distance.

Had I left it at that, the tar baby would have just been something I'd greeted and passed on the side of the road, much as Brer Rabbit should have. Alas, I did not. I've been gaining this sense lately that there's a lot more going on than what my friend has been admitting. And not, like, illegal behaviour or anything, but feelings left unsaid. In fact, they're palpable. It's as though there's an enormous elephant in the room and I've finally decided to say something about it. So I did... I responded and said I didn't want him to be led astray into thinking that I created this distance between us because I was undergoing some sort of bizarre medical adventure. I said it was because, in a very passive-aggressive way, I didn't want to fuel any more potential feelings in him. Because the last thing I want to do is lead someone on, when there's nothing to lead them towards. (and this would be where I started punching the tar baby) So, yes, I basically told him "hey, there's a huge elephant in the room with us" and he responded to me with "yes there is, you're partially to blame for it being there, and it's not going to leave any time soon." (good Lord, there's a lot of tar here) So, I'm stuck. I don't want to say anything more... not for a long while, because I really do want time and space from him, and I want him to not like me that way. But I don't think it's going to be that easy. I just don't know what the best course of action is from here. Do I continue fighting this stupid tar baby? Do I sit in the sun and let it bake off? What did the rabbit do?

hmm... Brer Rabbit had Brer Bear throw him in the briar patch and ran away... to come out scot-free again, combing the tar from his fur. I don't know if that's going to be possible in this situation. At the very least, I need to not punch/kick/hit the tar baby any more. But how do I get thrown into the Briar Patch? and who is my Brer Bear?

Anyway, that about says it all. This elephant has been stepping on me for a while, and I'm tired of being smacked in the face by its trunk. I needed to say something. I just don't know how to get rid of it. I don't even know if it's in my power to get rid of it. Though, I can see myself kicking it to death... It makes me feel awkward, embarassed and actually, hatred. I HATE that this is happening. I valued his friendship, but the elephant is very much likely going to kill it, or maybe eat it for breakfast. Whether it's a painfully drawn-out msn conversation, or a lunch I didn't want to have (and made feeble excuses to try to discourage him), or a christmas present I didn't reciprocate (because I'd say I didn't want anything and I meant it), or all the hugs I don't want to freely give to him, but he asks so forcefully, and I'm too polite to say no. Is that politeness though? Is it polite to wait until the elephant is too big to fit through the door and leave? I think it's my politeness that's, in the end, allowed the elephant to feed and grow.

So, I'm leaving the room. Whether or not that's the appropriate solution to the problem, I'm trying to shut the door on him and his elephant. While, thus far, there is no Brer Bear to throw me in the briar patch, I'm trying my best to throw myself into it. ... at least I hope I am.

and maybe, somewhere in that briar patch, as I comb tar from my skin, I'll be able to drum up the nerve to talk to the guy I actually do want to snog... because I think there's a chance he feels the same way too.

** Alright, before you call me a racist for using the Song of the South in any such format, let me just make my point: as noted previously, I think, I was exposed to a lot of older children's reading growing up (e.g. Little Black Sambo), and though perhaps initially these were very racist stories, I never saw them as such. Growing up in a multicultural city, neighbourhood and school, I learned from the beginning that colour, heritage and race denote nothing of any particular differentiating importance such that one colour (etc.) should be better or worse than the other. ... it also helps that my mother's of mixed racial heritage. So don't take my use of the tar baby as some sort of resurgence of racist imagery. I am using it only because it figured prominently in my childhood - as did all the stories of Brer Rabbit, Bear and Fox, and the Briar Patch in which they battled - and it's poignant when one looks at things in terms of the sticky situations we (un)wittingly throw ourselves into.

No comments: