Playing with fire

I wasn’t ready for the question. I never really am.

Mom and Dad asked about it tonight, and luckily, my one word answer amused well enough. They had the right to ask- I’ve been trying to be more honest about myself, about my doubts and goals and fears and wonders and passions and thoughts with them, as constant of an effort as it is for me.

But coming from my trainee, my office mate, it caught me off guard. It really shouldn’t have.

Sharing a space and a desk every day brings a forced intimacy. It requires patience and understanding, and a determination to not let petty things blow out of proportion. She and I, I figure we’ve done that well enough.

So why did this surprise me, that she would be curious? I’d been interested enough in her life, above and beyond my working responsibilities to get her prepared to do the job I was doing, because I believe in the whole approach. You need to be genuinely invested and interested in people if you’re going to work with them most effectively, especially as close as we’re working.

I know why she was curious. As much progress as I’ve made in being open and cracking wise with my office mates, I’m something of a mystery. I play it close to the vest.I’m Dave, I’m a geek, a Christian, a sports fan, and… what else?

I tried. To be honest, and forthright- how no, there wasn’t a woman I was dating, and I try not to let it bother me (though it occasionally did), and that if I was being honest, I really wasn’t seeking out anyone.

“Why not?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said.

‘But I DO know,’ I thought.  An interruption let me get off that train of thought, but I returned there before too long, as I often do.

I’ve been hurt before, and it’s stayed with me, in some cases longer than it should have. I don’t imagine my experiences with relationships are that much different from any other single person in their (late) 20s. Good, and bad, tending to focus more on one side or the other depending on the time and the context, and our mood on a particular day. I recall snapping at someone about “playing with fire and getting burned” once, and recalling the scars of prior relationships, that one comes back to me quite a bit.

I know I take things too personally- I have a fear of rejection that emasculates me on a fairly routine basis, especially in regards to relationships. We need to be able to handle things maturely, even when it doesn’t go as well as we think it should have. Fear and doubt, they’ll always be there. Not that someone like me, prone to getting trapped in his own mind, needs to be reminded.

Sometimes, it does take someone saying, “Why not?” to remind us of how good it could be, when it’s done right.


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