Sometimes I look back on my life and wonder, “how did I get here?”
The answer usually eludes me. I can rewind my life, like a movie in my head, and see certain decisions that might alter my current position. Like that one storyline of Doctor Who, where Donna Noble changed the future because she took a left instead of a right (or vice versa), I could go back and take a different turn.
Choose the other boy.
Say no just a little louder.
Study just a little harder.
Be more honest with myself a little sooner.
Lately, I’ve been looking at certain elements of my life and wondering: “How did I get here?”
Not just this job, or this relationship (that’s not a relationship), or this city, or this shape, but all of it. Where in the journey of Liz did I screw things up so badly that I’ve landed mostly alone in a city full of pretty people, working a job that isn’t true to my presumed purpose, confused and alone even though I’m seeing someone…
How did that happen?
Was my mistake as recent as the latest choice between boys? Should I have gone with the more forward, but less interesting man? Should I have put my time and effort into getting to know him better, even though he seemed slightly rude, and (frankly) was a little too short for my taste (and I was a little too tall for his)? Would I have been any happier with that one, the one who liked to make decisions and didn’t really consider my input, but also noticed little things, like how my outfit went together? Would he have captured my attention the same way as this one, given the chance?
I don’t really think so, he seemed so…false… Then again, maybe I’m not a good judge of such things. My track record hasn’t exactly been stellar on the dating scene. I tend to fall for the bad boys, and when I do think I’ve found a nice boy, I’m usually wrong. It’s usually a façade designed to lure in unsuspecting females. Usually I catch it pretty early on. If I was wrong about this one, I didn’t catch it soon enough not to make a half dozen terrible mistakes…
Maybe I should have taken a different one of the 3 jobs offered to me. Maybe this school is tainted and the metaphorical toxic waste that oozes from this job has seeped into other aspects of my life, causing me pain and misery. Maybe I would have been happier in Port Arthur, teaching a smaller school. Or maybe I would have been happier teaching closer to home. Or maybe I should have stayed closer to Dallas and found a way into Greenville H.S. where they knew me. Maybe I’d have been happier there, even though I was lonely there, too.
Maybe, but I doubt it…
Perhaps, if we rewind a little further, we’ll find that my mistake was made long ago (relatively speaking), and I should have avoided that first boy all together. The one who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. The one with the sword and knife collection. The one who hurt me first, and probably worst. The one who taught me to judge a man by his actions, not his words.
That’s the crux of it. Words lie. Actions speak truths. So when actions and words don’t match, every ounce of my being says “follow the actions.” What do you do when the person saying the words and doing the actions swears that the actions are the lie?
I’ve learned to be distrustful of people in general. I hide myself behind accents and old stories, waiting to see if the people I’m talking to can handle the real me. I divulge tiny bits of stories, little by little to see if they can handle it. Will I get hurt? Will they accept me, the real me? Even though I’m broken?
I’ve said it a time or three that since I’ve come to Houston I think I’ve found a group of girls that I would say do accept the “real me.” They are my real friends. And I trust them.
I also thought I had found a guy who I could entrust with the real me, but I rushed it. I rushed my feelings because I trusted the actions instead of the words. In the beginning, even the words sounded so right. So pure and heartfelt. So true. They seemed so genuine. And we go through these patches where I can’t tell up from down. Sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes for really not good reasons…
We’re in one of those patches now, and I’m waiting to hear his response. Waiting as patiently as I can (which isn’t very patiently), feeling the ache grow throughout my being because I think I know what conclusion he’ll come to.
I think we fizzled out. I was in fast forward, and he got to a certain point and hit pause, maybe even rewind, and I couldn’t slow down fast enough to not get ten steps ahead. Even though what I wanted wasn’t that big, it was more than he could give. And I can’t go that far back. I tried. And while I tried, his actions made me think he was at least moving forward somewhat.
Now I just don’t know. So I’m sitting here, at my desk, waiting for my conference period to end. And instead of grading papers, I’m sitting here, staring at the screen and wondering “how in the world did I get here?!”