The Picture You See Is No Portrait Of Me, It's Too Real To Be Shown To Someone I Don't Know
It occurred to me while I was out with Kerri Ray this past weekend that there's a reason I like Impressionist paintings (especially Monet). It happened when I caught myself fudging the answer to yet another personal question. I like to think of myself as an open book. I like to think that there's nothing I'm not willing to admit to even strangers. That's why I write this blog; to prove that there isn't any big, dark secrets I'm keeping from those I care about. However, when Kerri Ray's queries seem to burrow into some pretty dark recesses of my memory I couldn't help but obscure the complete answer as best I could. I didn't want to and it wasn't like the answers were particularly terrifying. If anything my hazy responses were the direct result of a desire to position myself in the best possible light.
I mean--I like Kerri Ray. But, aside from people like Carly or Ilessa, I don't think there's one person I see less often than her. And that presents problems when I'm attempting forge a connection. With most people, if I think they're going to stick around for awhile I have no problem divulging the truth. I figure it's going to come out anyway since I have never been good at hiding the fundamentals of my nature nor the certain habits that I've owned all my life. It's like the fact I can't smell. I usually tell that tidbit up-front to anybody I believe has a chance of knowing me for more than a few hours because that's a fact I can't hide. However, when it comes to people I see occasionally I stop seeing the point in going down the checklist of all my faults and weaknesses. I start to smudge out the delicate lines that delineate my personality. Instead, I subconsciously try to position myself as being the possible version of me. I try to give the best impression of me.
So, after watching Super 8, with its many reflections on the nature of reputation and redemption, when Kerri Ray asked me if there was anything in my life I thought I could never be forgiven for I lied and said that there wasn't. She knows some of the bad stuff. She knows about the burning of Jina's stuff. She knows about the fights with DeAnn. She knows about the pushing incident with Breanne. My temper isn't exactly something I can hide when I'm recounting anecdotes about how I used to be. But those I really have no shame about since it isn't me now. It's not like I go around hitting women or threatening to crash my car.
No, it was a lie because there are things I regret that most people don't know. For instance, I don't think I've ever said this allowed or written it down, but I really regret putting DeAnn and Breanne through the whole pregnancy scares. At the time I made light of it because all I could focus on was the relief, but a large part of me now realizes I took the whole situation callously and rather lightly. I should have been more mature. I should have been more involved.
And I regret being so cavalier about the friends I pushed away or let go of impulsively. I know I have a tendency to freak out over the tiniest things and convert them into excuses to sever ties with people. But the only reason I do that is out of a fear my friends will eventually outgrow me. It's my way of doing unto them what I feel they'll inevitably do to me. All my life I've been surrounded with people I was either jealous of, envious of, or just plain in awe of. Part of the attraction to the friends I have now is their capability to amaze me with their talents or just their life story. In comparison, I feel rather dull and uninteresting. And there always comes a point where my inferiority complex sets off alarms that I'm about to be ditched for far more interesting individuals. That's most of the reason why I let Jina go after she was a sophomore in high school, because she was too intelligent for me and I had the skulking suspicion that she was only going to get more intelligent and more cultured than I ever could. I didn't want to be the person she had to dumb down her conversations for. It was the same with Peter and Dan. I noticed there was a trend of them exploring new and varied pursuits, like snowboard, strip clubs, and traveling abroad, when I'm pretty much still content with the pursuits that amused me in high school--going to baseball games, playing board games, and watching movies. I'm rather intractable when it comes to finding new hobbies or discovering new interests. With those two I just felt like what I wanted to do was forever going to be brushed aside since the hobbies that bonded us together were no longer the hobbies they enjoyed.
And I regret being so timid in my approach to life, and especially romance. So much of my story I feel revolves around the chances I never took or sometimes took too late. I wish I could go back and change some of those opportunities. I like to think of myself as somebody impulsive. I mean--I take trips on a whim. In fact, I'm going to Chicago with my friend Cara come July 1st since I wanted to see The Elected play somewhere other than California. I'm still willing to drive out to a friend's house at 2 a.m. whenever they call. But when it comes to the big things--love, my career, my finding my bliss--I'm still as timid as a doe. No one should be as afraid of finding happiness as I seem to be.
I consider Kerri Ray a friend. It's not like I'd lie to her face. The days of me spreading untruths just for sport are long behind me. But when it comes down to it I know there are times where I intentionally give obtuse answers when it would be very easy to give a detailed one. I know there are certain people I'd rather not get into all the reasons why I'm fucked up with. Kerri Ray still thinks of me as somebody relatively smart, relatively funny, and relatively lively because that's the persona I try to tailor myself to when I'm around her. It's very easy for me to sublimate my more dour thoughts and curtail my more melancholy expressions for the couple of hours we catch up with each other. That ability, coupled with the knowledge that there's a good chance I won't see her again for a year or two, makes me feel like it's not worth wrecking her perception of me in order to forge something deeper and more substantial. What's the point of doing all the work of building a bridge if it's going to be eighteen months between crossings? There isn't a point.
I don't classify myself as a hard person to figure out. All my likes and dislikes are pretty much well-known. What I think keep guarded are the motivations for my actions and my reactions to these selfsame actions. Stories and incidents I have no problem relating to people I hardly know. After all, they're just choices I made a long time ago and the results of these choices. But my philosophy of life, especially my life, is what I tend to keep for myself and a select few. How I view the world and my place in it is something I feel is very precious. Once I give my opinion about a subject, especially a subject as important as life or love, it's out there and I can't take it back. People can see what I do or what I look like however they want. I have no modesty when it comes to personal history.
But how I feel about things? That's what truly matters to me and that's what I tend to guard rather closely when it comes to new people in my life. And like Monet or Sisley, I tend to present a representation of my true feelings rather than the actual feelings when I'm talking to somebody new in my life. It's just easier to have them see a version of me they like rather than the "real" me which, even I have to admit, goes either way for most people.
I'm not the person Kerri Ray thinks I am... but neither am I the person I tend to think of myself as. The truth, cryptically, lies somewhere in the middle.