Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Watching for cars

It's one of those golden mornings when the sun comes up and lights up a clear Colorado blue sky and I wish I was higher up in the mountains where the air is clear and I'm not snotting and sneezing all the time. I don't have nearly as many problems with allergens when I'm higher up and away from all the pollution and citified air. In order to get back there, I have to spend more time working down here, but I'll get there.

I had an interesting chat with someone I've known most of my life and had a crush on when I was younger: Scott Haney. His mother and mine were best friends and we both grew up thinking we were cousins, so the combination of shyness and familial taboo kept us both from saying that we liked each other. Finding out he had a crush on me was a surprise, but a pleasant one. Of the three Haney boys, he was my favorite. Paul, Jr, the oldest, was too focused on himself and Johnny, the youngest, was too goofy. Scott in the middle was not only the tallest but the best in my eyes.

Scott asked me if I remembered a time when he went out and laid down in the street to prove to me he was strong and brave by letting a car drive over him. I do remember and I remember being amazed and scared. I also thought he was incredibly stupid, if brave. He didn't live on a busy street so he didn't get his wish, but the gesture was enough--for me.

Scott and his wife Annie have been married for thirty years and they seem very well suited to each other and happy, which makes me happy. He got off to a rocky start and he's having a lot of physical problems now, due to his rock start, but he deserves to be happy and I'm glad that he is.

That's one thing I've noticed. Even when I've been interested in someone or had a crush, when I find out that they found the right partner and are happy and content with their life, it gives me hope for the future and that I'll find the right partner and happiness of my own. Until then, I am content to be closer than ever to my dreams coming true and being able to write makes everything so much better. I can see the change and evolution of my own writing as I let more and more of myself out into the open. There are still a few things I keep close to the vest, but fewer than before. It's a difficult process and one that is filled with challenges for me because I learned a long time ago to guard my heart to minimize the damage caused by others. I've found I'm not unique in this and several other people in my family do the same thing.

It's hard to put myself out there and trust people--or specifically one person--when I keep end up getting hurt and my emotions and heart trampled. People who only care enough to share their news and their troubles but never ask about mine remind me how much I still need to keep aloof and not allow myself to be someone else's emotional battery, boosting them when they are feeling ignored and dismissed in their own families.

Just because no one listens to you at home is no reason to run to me for an emotional boost because I care, especially if it means the only time you do show up is when you want something and never think to ask how I'm doing or how I'm feeling. It's selfish and uncaring and completely egocentric. That makes you the same as the people who marginalize, ignore and dismiss you. It's like a virus you keep passing around. It's sad and it makes me want to disconnect from all communication because I can only give so much without getting a little something back.

That's the thing about relationships. They work best when there are two people involved, like Scott and Annie. Scott had several surgeries on his back and is completely disabled, so Annie went back to school to get a nursing degree so she could pick up the slack. Scott designs and builds long bows and recurves, but he mostly stays at home and handles things there because he cannot work. He told me he and Annie get up together in the morning and when she leaves for work he goes back to bed for a while before getting up and taking care of things around the house and with his own projects. They are a team. When he was sidelined, she took point. That's the kind of relationship everyone should have instead of a relationship where one person carries all the weight and the other coasts and whines when they don't get everything they think they should have, and end up berating and blaming the other person for not working harder or doing more or giving up more so they aren't put out.

Relationships should be a two-way street, like the relationships I have with critique partners and friends. I give. They give. We all benefit and the relationships grow stronger. It's like a plant. Without water, sun and nourishment, the plant dies. Too much of any one element, or too little, and the plant cannot survive. Sometimes the plant needs more sun, a shuffling of nutrients and less water, but you adjust and give the plant what it needs to flourish. It's all about paying attention and being aware of what's needed -- like being ready to pull someone you care about out of the street when a car is coming.

Strangely enough, Scott was ready to get up and out of the way if a car did come, but it was the gesture that counted, and I was impressed eve though I did think he was a little bit stupid.

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