Drawing back the curtains

‘I hate snowblowers.’

That wasn’t fair, actually. I didn’t hate snowblowers. I hadn’t had enough experience with them to really hate them. They seemed like a good theory, all in all: Automate the annoying task of shovelling, something that was necessary on a driveway the size I was doing. The benefit of taking care of our parents’ place while they were away, I suppose. They have a HUGE driveway.

Right then, I hated that snowblower, as much out of ignorance as knowledge. My usual method of “trial and error” ended more with the latter, with the hilarious physical comedy of me learning to point the snowblower towards where I wanted the snow to eventually end up (kind of) and not shooting it onto the road or another driveway. As I semi-sort-of moved the pile of snow in it’s intended direction, I thought back to the day prior, where I’d spent some of the afternoon here, in a hot tub, thinking, ‘Noooo, it wasn’t going to snow, I wouldn’t have to come back here and do this.’

Nature had other plans. Already frustrated with the process, I swapped the snowblower for a shovel, deciding I wanted to work harder, for some reason. I hadn’t eaten all day, which made the physical work an even worse idea. None of that deterred me, somehow.

I was meeting someone there shortly. Meeting her there made sense in that crazy way that things do: neutral (okay, not really), private (moreso), and spacious enough that she could make for the door if things went badly (definitely). I’d be over here to visit and shovel anyway, let’s just tag this on, right? I’d thought of everything.

I wondered, as I covered the insane length of that driveway, what would happen if she’d driven up and saw me in the middle of this, the snowblower sitting idly as I took deep struggling breaths, pushing the surprising amount of snow (a longer space makes for more snow, as it turns out), opting to do it the hard way. Our meeting might have turned out differently.

I had, thankfully, given myself more than enough time to finish that task, even with the switch from the frustrating-but-probably-better-snowblower to the shovel. After finishing, a glass of water sated some of the exhaustion, and gave me some respite before my meeting. I sat down, and stared out the window, covered by blinds, an afternoon sun creeping through as I let my mind wander, unable to shake my anxiety.

It would have felt familiar, if I was being absurd. Sitting on a couch, staring off into space, my mind churning with thoughts. I could have drowned in those thoughts- I had for some time.

The doorbell rang. She was here.

*****

It’s a continual process for me, learning relationships. I like to think that my work has made me better at it, having to sit in front of people day after day and build a connection when I didn’t know them before they walked into my office. I’m reasonably good at that, for all my self deprecation. People trust me. Which is good, because I don’t always trust myself.

It’s still a struggle. I’ll continue to comment on the irony of me being good in front of groups of people, sounding smart and funny and engaging and all those things I’ve been accused of in a group setting. And then, putting me in front of one person, and struggling to communicate what really matters to me. I’ve built this life with safeguards, seperate, able to be independent and apart from other people, for all the good and bad that entails.

I was told once that it was okay to want something in a relationship- that it was okay to be honest, even if it was hard.  It’s hard for me. I’m not good at it. But that’s part of learning: if you don’t say it, then it doesn’t get said, especially in a one-on-one situation where they might be just as uncertain as you are, or more determined to get what they wanted.

Maybe that’s the secret. Coming in with some confidence, with the theory that we’re all just as screwed up and uncertain about things. I grew up thinking that there was an “aha!” moment when I became an adult, where it all magically fell into place. That didn’t happen, somehow. I learned more, but the questions and problems got bigger and more complicated. Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to relationships, because we need others to survive.

It was startling when I looked at my watch later, and discovered that she and I had been speaking for over three hours. Some of it were conversations that needed to be had, some were normal and rote; the conversations we’d had too often before. But this time, it was different. I couldn’t put my finger on how then. I wonder if she felt the same, or if that was my hope making more of it than I should have.

I don’t remember exactly when I got up to go over to the window. The bright afternoon had started to move into the evening, but the sun was insistent, a constant reminder behind the blinds. “You know,” I commented, “This view would probably work better without the blinds.”

I pulled the strings, and the blinds came down, slowly. The sunlight and mountains that had been hidden from us shone through, bringing light to the room, where we’d been sitting and talking.

Yes, I thought, feeling the sun on me through the window, that was better.

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