Monday, February 6, 2012

Down to My Skivvies

You know more about me sometimes than my best friends know. Here’s the dilemma. I write as I do so you want to read more. I write the dirt, the skinny. I strut around on page in my push-up and cheekies because that holds the interest. Honestly, as a reader myself I would much rather learn of the author’s addiction issues, diva tendencies, or illicit affairs (yes, with an “s”) than to hear how it was a good night because her child went to sleep the first time she tucked him in, her husband expected nothing of her, and there was a bit of chocolate left in the fridge. Please. I have so been there. Take me away. Show me something secret you wouldn’t share with even your closest confidant. Show me that thing you did in that parking lot with that guy when you thought no one was looking. Share with me how you felt so alone and so confused at that one point in your life that you considered dark thoughts, dark thoughts that you have never considered since. Open up your lingerie drawer, your pantry, your private journal. Pour me a glass of wine and just have out with it, have out with every juicy detail. This is such insanely delicious fun when it is I who am the reader, but when I put my own thoughts to page, and I pour YOU that glass of wine, you see me as I truly am. That, my friend, is just a bit unnerving.

It is unnerving because tomorrow you will sit in my class and raise your hand. You will ask for clarification on Harlow and Ainsworth and will wonder out loud why we care about attachment theory, why it matters. As I work you through the long-term benefits of a secure attachment style you will look at me, you will look at me in my cardigan with sleeves to elbows, glasses on top of my head, looking very teacher like and you will know. You will know that underneath that conservative cardigan is a bit of eyelet or lace or sparkle. You will know that most likely it is black and perhaps with a tiny bow adorned with even tinier crystals dangling from that bow.

It is unnerving because tomorrow you will catch me during office hours and stop to say hello. You will share an anecdote from one of your classes, ask how my term is going, and complain once again about a paper or a student or work in general. I will shoot you my signature smile, make the appropriate small talk, then wish you a great rest of your day. In my head, though, I will know that you see me as that kid, the kid who drove up and down streets collecting Coke bottles with her mother and sisters one afternoon in order to get money to buy dinner that night, the kid who sat in the field all day while her mother picked cotton in the blistering Southern sun just to get enough money to buy a gallon of milk, the kid who ate squirrel and rabbits and, maybe once, the legs of frogs because those foods could be shot and killed and came into the house for free.

It is unnerving because tomorrow you will see me in church. You will take my hand and offer me the Peace. I will respond likewise and comment on, my, how your children have grown, how I remember when they were small and in the preschool class and I was teaching them about communion and Christmas, the church calendar and such, how I remember that they were the donkey in the pageant and how they were looking so forward to the Easter Bunny because, after all, wasn’t that what the purple and waiting time was for? You will nod and remember, you will nod and then you will look at me and wonder to yourself, “How can she come across so sweet, so prim and proper? How can she smile like that in such an innocent way? She writes about breasts, for Pete’s sake, and swears like a sailor.”

Frankly, it is unnerving because I am opening to you while you are staying fully clothed, tight-lipped, and more than a bit restrained. I cannot see your response. I cannot know your thoughts. I cannot feel the tension, the shock, the sadness, the grief. I cannot hear the laughter, see the smirks. Do I want you to continue listening? Yes. Will I continue, then, to write as I feel? Definitely. Will I ever be comfortable with this? I think not. However, I see no point in sharing the mundane. Yes, I had salad for breakfast. It was beautiful and delicious, but nobody cares. Likewise, I’m sure no one gives a flying flip that the mailbox was packed, but with not one item in the entire pile for me. But scoot your chair a little closer and listen up. I shared an incredibly secret secret today with someone I don’t really know all that well. I needed it out of my head in the way that an aneurysm needs to explode. It was of the mystical, the mysterious, the metaphysical sort. I feel better now, but may have opened myself to a whole lot of trouble. Now take a breath and sit back. You may have to pour ME that glass of wine before this one comes out.