These flashbacks always get to me.
It's about four and a half years ago. I'm out on a kind of field trip to the Wailing Wall with a few other unlawful high school dropouts on part of what passes for our year's program.
I think most of the kids are off at the wall. A few of us are sitting down closer to the entrance of the complex, overlooked by the wall about a hundred metres off. They're sitting on one of those concrete seat-type slabs. I'm sitting a few metres behind on the thematically appropriate dead dry earth.
I want to talk to one of the girls there. Brief previous (almost accidental) exchanges tell me she's into films but doesn't give the American stuff the credit I think it's due, seems generally curious about the world, compassionate, and gives the impression she's dropped out for more interesting reasons than the rest of these guys (also she's pretty). I briefly consider braving the metre and a half separating us but reject it almost out of hand. It is an unbridgeable chasm. Sitting down next to her will communicate unequivocally to her and anybody else watching that I am interested in talking to her, as opposed to entirely oblivious to her existence. I don't think I can handle that.
She seems frustrated by my apparent lack of interest and, I suppose, the mixed messages I'm sending. I can actually see this (and am not likely to be imagining it at this state in my self-esteem), but it fails to make a dent in my fiercely resolved timidity.
It almost pains me to admit this, because I've found myself arguing the opposite point with people more than usual lately, but things have really changed since then. Improved. If I was in the same position today I would definitely talk to her, and we'd likely end up at least giving a chance to being together
It's not often that I find myself interested in a person that way - that is to say, genuinely interested in any way, romantic or not. On the rare occasion that I do, I fail to notice that the polite, feigned, delimited interest I show towards everybody everywhere actually holds me back in their case rather than bringing me forwards like it does with all those people I wouldn’t for a second miss if I never saw again.
I have tried to avoid being in this position again, of pretending to be indifferent when I’m not, because it’s a situation I find shocking and obscene in a way and to an extent I don’t feel I’ve ever managed to properly communicate to anybody, but this attempt, as usual, has flown straight into overkill.
I now pretend to be interested even when I’m not, but the effort is so exhausting I can only afford a certain minimum of phantom interest, and it doesn’t even occur to me to bring more when there’s actually somewhere to put it.
There are two aspects (at least) to not being full of shit. One if to not waste your time on role-play and general attempts to appease everybody and everything; the other is to actively pursue that which you want once you figure out what it is. I’m putting a lot of energy and effort into the first of these lately – I’m sick to death of being the doormat of people who didn’t even ask for a mat – but I need to keep a closer eye on what and who actually interests me. That’s something it’s generally good to pay attention to.
^ Because I still like this picture.