Saturday, August 16, 2008

More damage

This time, it was social damage.

Thursday evening, I called my old French teacher, Pauline, to see if she wanted to go to the movies. We made a plan to meet on Friday at the theater. I arrived at the appointed time, 4:30pm, and waited. And waited. I waited for about 20 minutes, missed the movie, and she never arrived. It's obvious in retrospect that I should have called her but for whatever reason, I didn't. I'd also invited my American friend, Dara, to join us. Dara couldn't make it, but asked me to dinner at her place around 8pm.

I decided that instead of going home, I'd have a coffee and read for a while and walk along to Dara's place. I sat in a café for about an hour and then walked down to the Seine. Friday was a holiday here (the Assumption) and I got caught up in a procession honoring Mary. It was quite a scene. The police, who followed behind the marchers, blocked the streets. A van with loudspeakers on top moved slowly in the middle of the crowd. A priest inside sang out hymns and prayers and the crowed sang or chanted along in the appropriate places.

I crossed a bridge with the crowd and took a few pictures. I was hungry and needed a snack. I picked up a mini-quiche in a little bakery on the Ile St-Louis and crossed to the other side of the Seine on my own. Paris Plage was in full swing down below, so I found a spot in the sun to sit and eat.

At 6:30pm, my phone rang. It was Pauline. She was at the movie theater. She thought we were going to the 7pm show. Um, whoops. I tried to explain that I'd been there earlier. She asked why I didn't call. I had no answer (in any language). I also tried to explain that I had to meet someone later and couldn't go to the movie now. I guess she understood and eventually she said she was going to the movie. I said ok. Boy, did I feel bad. I'd thought about trying to do everything and the timing just wasn't right. Maybe I should have invited her to Dara's? Maybe I should have called Dara and asked if it were ok to come over very late (10?)? (It turns out, it probably would have been fine, but it didn't seem right.)

I hope I can still make a friendship with Pauline work. I feel terrible about what happened. I just didn't know how to explain myself in French. No one was in the wrong; it was clearly a misunderstanding. I knew she wouldn't stand me up--it's not her style. I should have called and why I didn't--I wish I could understand it myself. Sigh.

Anyway, the walk to Dara's was pleasant and I arrived after taking another reading break. I got to her door a little after 8pm and kept her company during the dinner prep part of the evening. Her other guest, Peter, (I know him too) arrived quite late--after 9?--so I really should have met Pauline. Oh well.

Dara is a good cook and made an enormous amount of Chinese food. Delicious! Apparently, Dara had mentioned A. to Peter and when we were talking alone on the terrace he said, "Dara tells me you have a boy!"

I was a little embarrassed. Do I have a boy (or a man) or a date or anything? I have no idea. I last talked to A. on Wednesday. I was going to a happy hour in his neighborhood and I asked if he wanted to get together after. I sent him a text and he called in return. We chatted briefly (he was busy) and that's the last time we were in contact. I am trying not to think about it. I was feeling super anxious about everything this week and I sent a somewhat desperate sounding email to Nancy. She responded with a little (much needed) tough love.

I am well aware that I am slipping into my normal pattern, even though the circumstances don't warrant it. I don't even particularly want a boyfriend. Nevertheless, I met A. and I shifted into my normal needy anxious pattern. A couple of things Nancy said hit home, in particular that I'm looking for validation. It's true--but I have no idea why. Validation from A. would mean nothing. We don't know each other very well so, even though I like him a lot, just exactly how could he validate me? Of course, this has to come from within--and 100% of the time I'm not dating anyone, I manage fine to feel happy and self-confident with only moderate amounts of external validation from family and friends.

Nancy was worried about hurting my feelings, but what she wrote wasn't too hard to take (she also said a lot of very nice things). It helped open my eyes. I could see myself slipping into this pattern and I could feel myself start to push A. He's not the love of my life. He is not going to be my life partner or the father of my children. But is he is someone who I've had fun with and would like to see again. In a sense, because I know that this is a casual relationship (in the sense that I don't anticipate a future), I feel even more anxious. I still want those other things and by having (perhaps!) something that falls quite a bit short of that, the contrast, the lack is brought clearly to the forefront. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

For the past couple of days, when I find myself drift into my old patterns of negative thinking and anxious worrying about whether I'll ever hear from this particular person again, I tell myself: you don't need him for validation, that comes from inside. It comes from inside. And then, I pull it out. I smile. I look around and I can see all the good things happening in the world and all the good things about myself. And, really, isn't the fact that A. and I have already spent happy times together validation enough? I always want more; I will always want more. I will learn to be content with what I can get.

I have spent way too much time sitting in the house the last couple of days. I did finish knitting my little sweater/shrug. I showed it to Dara and she said it was fashionable--apparently this type of garment is popular these days. I said, "It's not really my style." She said, "But it is in style." I'm not sure if I'll wear it or not, but it did add just the right amount of warmth on a cool-ish summer evening. The fit isn't perfect but after a wash and block, I think it will improve. I am ready to make a real sweater…soon. Oh, and I'm definitely contemplating getting out of the house today. Soon, very soon.

Grateful for: figuring things out.

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