Sunday, June 7, 2009

Breadcrumbs, among other things, continued...

Small talk of the cocktail party variety has always made me squirm. There were years when spousal obligations required showing up at events and being pleasant - if it's not too much to ask, possibly making sense - among people with whom I had nothing in common, other than that we were human and we were somehow connected to a certain line of work. Whether shipping or journalism, it was all the same. What saved me, if anything did, was being a good listener.

For example, if today I was catapulted to one of those painful-even-in-memory gatherings, I'd be thinking about suspended animation. Today I feel as though I have slowed down to an almost purely observational state in which everything around me moves and I remain still. Right now I can see the trees waving, the clouds changing shape, pattern and color while I feel like the fixed object. So should I be called upon to chat with strangers, I might blurt our something akin to, "Do you ever feel as though everything else in the world is swirling madly and you are not connected to it at all?" This is not what one would call a socially successful opening gambit.

With regard to the earlier "Breadcrumbs" posting and the subject of our scars, it isn't exactly scar tissue that made me dread those company dinners or benign cookouts, but the knowledge, which has only grown, that my brain doesn't seem to work in quite the same way as those of most people. It makes, at times, wild, gold-medal stride synaptical leaps from one topic to another, their similarities clear to me, baffling and probably annoying to others. It isn't something that can be stopped by any other means than not speaking. So while not a scar in the traditional sense, perhaps more of an idiosyncracy, it is one of the characteristics that I see as an essential part of who I am. And for good or ill, we are all who we are, it is just that some of us require a longer period of earthly adjustment to be okay with that. I suspect I have always seen things as connected, something is like something else, and on it goes. It is not a habit which can be broken; perhaps even friends find it trying and I know too well those attempts at social exchanges when the glazed look first appears. Oh well. We all can only bring what we have.

But identifying the quirks that define us is another integral part of self-discovery and, ultimate goal, self-acceptance. I can't say that knowledge has banished feelings of robust oddness...those puzzles we would have as part of tests (SATs? who remembers?) asking which object doesn't match...I will forever be the girl wearing purple socks when the dress requirement called for brown. The question always has been, always will be, do I let some potential opportunity slip past me or elbow my purple-socked way to the front of the line. One thing scars can add to our repertoire - toughness.

1 comment:

Erin Perry said...

Oh yes, I remember going to those events. I must tell you I would have been thrilled if you had come up and said, "Do you ever feel as though everything else in the world is swirling madly and you are not connected to it at all?"
Too bad we weren't at the same functions! Isn't it lovely to be "now" and so far away from who we thought we needed to be.