Guest post by ThoughtTrain
I want to thank Tired_of_this_7 for reminding me that I need to post more. I’ve been sort of a taker recently, been reading your stories and taking inspiration from them and not really giving advice and co-celebrating with you all. Allow me to try and change that now.
Halloween weekend was something of a breakthrough for me too. I went out dressed as Arthur Dent (from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, drop everything and read it if you haven’t yet) as it was a simple costume to throw together. It consists of a bathrobe, pajama shorts, a shirt, a towel, and the right mix of determination and foolishness to wear it despite the reference being way too obscure for everyone but the book nerds among us. Fortunately, I posses all of these things.
So here I go again, out on another adventure. I make my way downtown and meet up with Shakedown in his new apartment. It’s nice, simply put together and in a nice location. We talk about life, the universe, and the importance of knowing where your towel is. He tells me he’s been learning to play the guitar, and pulls out this old steel string that makes me think of the guitar I first played on a long time ago. He says his is a cheap guitar, but the guitar I have was a cheap, beat-up guitar when Jimmy Carter was president. The bridge is held in place by Popsicle sticks. I eventually got a cheap classical acoustic that isn’t quite so rough around the edges, back when I used to play back in college, with my finger-picking Greensleeves and my dorky classical position. I stopped playing because I felt like I would never be good enough, because I felt like I wasn’t the sort of guy who was cool enough to play guitar. Everything I learned was just a dorky suburban kid playing the guitar like every other dorky suburban kid. This was all completely lost on Shakedown, but when I saw another guitar I saw that choice in the perspective of where I am now, where none of that baggage matters. I just wanted to play it again. I played it a little bit, and I played a few riffs and realized how out of practice I was. I was never good, but god I loved being bad at guitar. The next morning I would restring my old nylon and start practicing again, but to tell that part would be to miss the best part of this night.
So we hang out for a while longer. He shows me this video on taking risks. He shares with me his love of grumpy cat. In a little while he leaves to go get three of his friends who were going out with us. I sit, later dance, listening to those kind of pop songs that really emphasize the bass. In walks in Shakedown’s old friend, this friend’s girlfriend, and a bombshell. The kind of girl who sets the room on fire when she walks in. I like to say I was stoic. I like to say a lot of things.
The group goes to this Halloween party at a bar down the way. We walk, we talk. I joke with this girl but I don’t think much of it. She’s a bombshell, reader friend. Were you there for the part when I was talking about how I’m a dork and how I’m dressed like a nerd, even in costume? Yeah. Weirdly, she was somewhat shy and soft-spoken, which seemed oddly incongruous with the whole staggering beauty thing, but I rolled with it, rolled with the group, tried not to think about anything but having fun. I did end up talking to her a lot. I tried and explain where she can get much better wine than the stuff out of a plastic cup she’s drinking. I may be a nerd, but I know something about good alcohol. I talked to other people as well, this group and strangers alike. Shakedown’s friend tells me that this conversation with the bombshell is great experience for me, since she’s so out of my league. I knew what he was saying and he meant well, but I really want to live in a reality where I’m in anyone’s league. I choose to try, because, as that video I saw with Shakedown put it, fuck it. I asked her dance. I kissed her. She kissed me. There was a lot of that as the evening ended, kissing. It was nice. It was more than nice really.
We parted ways. I got up the next morning and restrung my guitar. I’ve been playing it in what time I can spare ever since, and likely will after finishing this post. I saw her once again, but she seemed more distant somehow. The next weekend she told me she didn’t want to date anyone. I spent the whole week trying to be cool and not care, not be needy like I always am but know I don’t have to be, and I tried not to care once that door closed, but it stung. I actually asked someone else out as well, but that didn’t fare much better. I felt an old pain. It was different though, as I felt like I was watching my mind going through a familiar pattern, but there was some part of me that was detached now from my mind’s antics. That was when I felt like I had entered into a new stage. I think I’ve conquered the anxiety of talking to people but I haven’t conquered my anxiety in general, but now there is a resistance. I’m learning to watch it and learning to fight back. The pain flares up every now and again, but it doesn’t own me anymore. It’s liberating, but takes a lot of presence of mind.
In the words of Joe Pug, “And so it gets, and so it goes. That’s what you get I suppose. For wanting something more, then a life of walkin’ rows.”
I went out alone, since my date had been canceled. That night I was experimenting with being non-reactive, not seeking but rather just taking everything in. I went to a random bar, and in the process stumbled into a very odd nerd-themed burlesque show. It was an interesting place to try and be non-reactive, but that’s what I tried to be. I’m not very good at reading this, but I think the girls around me were hitting on me. One in particular seemed keen on engaging me in conversation, when I wasn’t trying to talk to anyone. It was surreal. The only problem was I think I was doing non-reactive a little too well as there were several points with different people where I think I was supposed to switch into being engaged and actually flirting, but I didn’t because I was still experimenting with being non-reactive. Lesson learned.
The next weekend I went to a coworker’s party. It was mostly uneventfully, but there was really important moment that came up when someone said to me something like, “I wish I could just walk up to those cliques of people talking in circles.”
“So why don’t you?” I replied.
“I don’t know how to.”
“There’s no special trick. You just go up and talk to them. Here, pick a group.”
“What, is this a challenge now?” To which I just rolled my eyes and walked up to the closet group and just started talking to them. It wasn’t a big deal. The joke is the only reason I felt compelled to prove it to him is I’ve only just reached this place myself, and I need to prove it to myself every now and again to prove it wasn’t just a fluke. It’s like living in a prison for years and years with a bunch of cellmates and one day a guy just stands up and waves the bars aside like they were no more substantial than a cloud. I’m so used to the cage that I have to constantly remind myself it’s not there, and I want other people to see it too. Want to leave the cage with me? I think a lot of people here are, and it’s inspiring to watch. Thank you for that, for the inspiration.
More happens after this, I still haven’t quite brought you up to the present, reader friend, but I have a few other things that I need to get done tonight. I’ve kept your attention for long enough, anyway. Thank you for hearing me out. It really is cathartic to write all this out like this. You should try writing your own post sometime, if you don’t already. There’s so many people making progress on this site and it’s so great to read and know it’s happening for people just like me. I feel like I wake up every day a better man than I was the day before, which means my best days are probably ahead of me. It’s a good feeling. I hope you guys feel the same way with your own journeys. Stay Positive. Thanks again.Tweet