Sunday, February 10, 2008

Well Fed

I turned left from my parents’ street this morning, smiling even as I shivered in the cold. I was heading north for this trip and was happy over the familiarity and sense of rightness that caught my attention from the first moments of the drive.

As familiar as the drive was, my sense of excitement over seeing people seemed odd. I took a personality test several months ago and was scored as an introvert - 100%. Such an extreme seemed non-ideal, but as I thought about it, I realized that - save a select few folks - I felt happy and calm and rested when I was by myself. I am lonely sometimes and adore Friend’s company and the random visits from other people I love. But for the most part, I embraced my solitude. The isolation keeps me well. I therefore wondered if this trip - filled as it is with people - would exhaust me.

Yesterday, I prepared. I had lunch with Mom and Little One after selecting books at Borders for the small boys I’d meet on this trip. While we read new books and ate our pasta, I smiled across the table as Little One opened the flaps in her Little People book and counted animals and listed shapes. She struggled a bit with the colors though.

I related this struggle to Violet and she and her little one went over colors with M&M’s. Blue was the immediate answer for each color and when she looked concerned, I said he might just be bored or still picking it up. He’s a delightful child - full of curiosity and noise and happiness. Violet went adopted him more than a year ago and they seem to have adjusted beautifully to each other. It’s not at all odd to see her as a mother - she’s always struck me as strong and maternal. I did smile at her apologies for her cluttered house before I waved them off. It was the first time I’d seen her free of make-up and her shiny hair swinging freely rather than styled into the sleek bob she favors. It suits her.

“Stop,” I insisted when she apologized again for the simple dinner. We had chicken and vegetables and rice while we sat around her comfortable table with her son. Her dog - a huge shepherd mix I immediately loved - waited semi-patiently for someone to drop something. “I won’t have you apologize for a lovely home filled with toys and videos and snacks and sippy cups. Nor will I have you regretting a dinner I enjoyed very much that let us have conversations I’ve missed dearly.” So, after hours of talking about travel and children and men and money and work and stories of what comes next and what came before, I hugged her son. He hadn’t let me wipe his nose as he suffers through another cold, but I did get to read to him a bit. And I started to understand the words he favored and he’s sometimes grace me with a smile. I smoothed his black hair back from his forehead and thought he and Violet made a lovely pair. I cooed once more to the pretty dog and hugged Violet tight before taking my leave.

In short, I left as I went in - feeling full of energy and happiness.

I arrived at Violet's feeling pleased, though a call had been necessary to clarify directions much as I bothered Repressed Librarian this morning when I turned the wrong direction on the last street. Her voice surprised me when her appearance did not. I expected - from her Facebook photo and my mental image of her - that she’d be lovely, and she was. Her voice matches her personality better than I expected though. Lilting and bright, it was very easy to listen to her speak and I found myself returning her smile with great frequency. She claims she doesn’t sleep enough, but has this delightfully boundless energy when she talks about friends and her work.

“I can’t imagine anyone being angry at you,” I said once when she paused in a story. “You’re like this little bubble of happiness!”

I recall reading her blog when she wasn’t nearly so bubbly. I’ve long had tremendous admiration for her - she took an unhappy situation and worked to change it. That’s not trivial - the choice to suffer through the status quo rather than exert effort to demand changes of myself is one I’ve made more than I’d care to admit. So to see someone - especially someone I find smart and charming and capable and beautiful - make changes and find this happy energy is impressive and wonderful and inspiring and awesome and more good adjectives than I can name.

She showed me some of her work and even as I admired it, I found myself fighting back a pang of envy. Not that she does something that makes her proud and eager to work harder, but that I don’t have that. So as she described deadlines and showed me pieces of her life, I found myself a bit lost for what to offer in return. I don’t know where to go from here. I want to be a little bubble of happiness when I talk about work. I am rather a mostly deflated balloon. Sad and squishy and seeking a place under a piece of furniture to rest for a bit because I don’t particularly want to deal with my life. I don’t know that I would feel that pride and sense of accomplishment if I’d showed her papers I’d published. But I waved those feelings away so I could enjoy her as much as possible in the short time we had.

And it was a cool feeling - the first of my blogger meetups. Though Friend read my blog before we met, I knew her before I started reading her latest incarnation of an online journal. So having RL finish stories or answer questions was wonderful. Having a place to start and a sense that I already liked her a great deal made me eager to meet her and I enjoyed it as much as I expected. And I love knowing what she drives and where she lives - a real grown-up’s house with pieces of furniture and art that I very much want to own - gave her this depth that I find incredibly cool. Making eye contact and hearing her voice were new, but the sense of her as a person was already there. I found I liked her too much to worry overly hard over what she thought of me.

In short, I drove out of the restaurant and once again turned the wrong direction before sheepishly turning around. But the difference between the wrong turns before and after brunch was that I’d eaten a delicious meal at this adorable restaurant and felt full. Not just of food - though the frittata really was delightful - but of this wonderful feeling that I met a new friend.

A day that includes two good meals is normally good for me. When they are shared with two women I like a great deal - allowing me time to learn about their lives and share stories of my own - the day becomes rather amazing. So I'm not 100% introverted after all, I think.


la rebelde said...

sounds like a great day!

Amanda said...

That sounds like a lot of fun! I'm glad that you felt "full" after meeting with so many people. And I don't know if that test is statistically valid. :-)

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