round and round...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Check mate

Sometimes life is a funny thing. It just is. It brings people in, takes people out, moves others around like chess pieces on an infinite board. I had two experiences today that showed me the chess game is always being played, that people are in constant shuffle in moves that seem random but usually end up serving some sort of strategy.

While running errands this afternoon I saw a woman I used to work with. She was shopping with a friend and I was alone, looking ragged with my unshowered, yoga-panted, hat-topped self. We had dinner plans later and it was raining. I didn't want to get all dolled up to go run errands just to get damp and droopy for dinner, I figured I'd clean up when I got home. Plus, when I'm feeling icky, the urge to try on clothes while shopping is considerably less than normal, thereby lightening the load on my wallet. Solid plan, I thought.

Well, I saw this woman and instead of my first reaction being to say hello and catch up, I immediately looked down and pretended I was super interested in the lime green cable knit sweater on the display table at my waist. I looked over the rim of my glasses yet under the brim of my hat every few seconds, monitoring her movements to see if she'd vacated the area while I stood there, paralyzed, face pointed at the hideous lime green cable knit sweater. After she'd gone I avoided her the rest of the time I was in the store.

I started to feel bad. Guilt came creeping in. I felt like I should have said hi, should have acknowledged her. I don't think she saw me, so it would have been up to me to make contact. I thought maybe I was embarrassed because I didn't look "cute enough for company", like I was too schlubby to be seen by anyone I knew.

The more I thought about it, the more clearly it dawned on me that it wasn't embarrassment, it wasn't any feeling of inadequacy. It was simply a realization that sometimes people get moved off your part of the chess board... and that's OK. She and I weren't close, we enjoyed each others' company at work, but we didn't have deep conversations, we didn't have lunch together. We were coworkers, nothing more. I realized I didn't miss her. I was OK with her absence in my part of the chess board. Avoiding her meant saving 15 minutes in a time-crunched afternoon that would have been spent filling her in on details of my life she didn't know about when we worked together and hearing the same from her. It would have been a conversation of pleasantries and "how is So-And-So?". It wouldn't have been bad, it might have even been nice. But it wouldn't have been meaningful to me and I made the decision to let it slide.

That was a very strange thing for me to figure out. In my moments of over-analysis I like to think this means I'm letting go of the piece of me that wants desperately to be liked, wants so badly to be cool and included, even among people I have no real connection with. There's no need for that part. Silencing it leaves more energy to focus on deeper connections with myself and with people on my part of the chess board.

The second part of my day that struck me was the dinner MT and I had tonight. An old friend of his from high school, Chris, and his fiancee, Kerri, came to Brooklyn from Connecticut to have dinner with us. The two guys hadn't seen each other in 12 years. MT was excited all week since the plan was hatched for us to meet up. He really respected Chris back in school (they shared a locker!) and has always listed him in the handful of people he'd like to catch up with now that they're all grown up and adult-ish. Chris and Kerri are great. They're the kind of people who listen genuinely and have intelligent insight and contribute to the moment. They both write, he makes films, she has a blog (sixuntilme) that's a support community for people with diabetes where she talks about everything from medical advances and treatments to everyday things like funny conversations with Chris and her new camera (which is awesome).

Lesson of the day: people move in and people move out... I've got two new people on my chess board. That's pretty sweet.

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6 What people are saying:

Blogger Retro Girl rambles...

Wow. Damn.
This was a really well put, eloquently spoken post. You really were able to step back, recognize your feelings and put everything into perspective in a productive way...this is so helpful for others, like myself, who have been through similar situations! Just have to say Wow.

Sounds like the reunion with MT and Chris was a great time for all. Good to hear the smile in your 'voice' again!

11/19/2007 08:55:00 AM

Blogger patti_cake rambles...

Very well put, I need to be more picky about my chessboard!

11/19/2007 09:56:00 AM

Blogger Kerri. rambles...

It was a pleasure meeting you and MT -- and I also enjoyed having Duke lean on me. :)

Next time, I'll be sure to score a picture of the ceiling. Alas, all I have now are the pictures that Chris took of the fence outside your house.

Looking forward to being an avid reader of yours, and next time you guys are invited to visit us in our neck of the woods!

-- Kerri.

11/19/2007 10:06:00 AM

Blogger Melissa rambles...

Thanks, guys. It was quite a shock to my system to have that dawn on me, and I'm really glad it happened. Little insights into yourself are sometimes hard to come by and when they come it's best to listen. It was an eye-opener, for sure.

Retro Girl, thank you, chickie. Thanks big for that comment. I'm glad the smile is back, too! And I'm glad you can "hear it"!

Patti, being picky is the hard part, isn't it? It's so much easier said than done. Here's to both of us being a little more conscious of that going forward. ;-)

Kerri... YAY! I have to say, I was up until 2:30 last night reading your site. Sheesh. 2:30! I was gripped. You write so frankly and openly, it's amazing. Reading your writing is kind of like having a conversation with you because your style is so real (hence the familiarity your readers feel with you... all the good and bad that entails). It's great. I'm really glad the guys got in touch because meeting you & Chris was wonderful.

11/19/2007 10:25:00 AM

Blogger Sandra rambles...

I agree with your analysis of changing and not desperately needing everyone to like you - although I sure do know how the 'feeling shlubby' thing comes into play also.

11/19/2007 05:42:00 PM

Anonymous Motormouth rambles...

Judging from Sandra's avatar, she's never been shlubby a day in her life.

11/23/2007 10:47:00 AM


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