When you live or work in what amounts to a small-town setting, how do you get away from your past? How do you outlive your blunders? I have been muddling through the consequences of my own blunder of inappropriateness some months back; doubting my judgment, looking for explanations, wishing it was all a bad dream. It’s not so much the actual content that bothers me, it’s having put it out there, sans context. My attempts to add context seem to have exacerbated the situation. How does one out grow the situation, out pace it? Usually there is laughter when someone says ‘you’ll never live that down’ but no one is laughing.
I think back to an observation that my mother made when I was a late teen, about how I always brought friends home at the beginning of a relationship. We were living in those days in a house with no walls and no floors and no interior doors. At one time the only toilet was over the drain thingy in the basement. Whatever. I think she was correct in her observation that it was a test of sorts for my would-be friends; a place not for the faint-of-heart.
I don’t recall any of the people who didn’t come back for a second visit, but those who did shared some rollicking good times at The Doll House for many years. And here I am meeting all sorts of great new people at work, at home, at play and I find myself wondering if my own cluttered mental closets are now my testing ground, if I have become a psychic flasher exposing people early and unexpectedly to the worst mess that I can find.
Lamenting to Philip, aka CSI Socrates, one morning over coffee he said “Hey, I can understand that. When I met you I thought, ‘Let’s be friends – we don’t have time to mess around’.” He later asked me if I was collecting characters. A glance askance was my response.
And now I wonder if the qualification for ‘characters’ are those who don’t mind the messy closets, the incomplete thoughts, the over-the-top enthusiasm or being emotionally flashed once in a while. I wonder if we are all closet-flashers, masquerading as people who have our shit together. As I look around my collection of characters I see that it is an expanding community and that each of us is collecting characters in our own way, according to our own test.
In the mean time I keep hoping for the punch-line, the thing that will make it all ok, will make this so much water under the bridge and keep me from spending so much time inside my mental closet, hanging and folding all the unanticipated answers to ‘why’.
And I offer thanks to the powers that be for my own collection of stout-hearted characters.