THE BIG THAW 

New Yorkers have a reputation for being cool.

Nay, more than cool. I say now, fellas, what’s cooler than being cool? Uh, “emotionally frigid.” Yeah, that’s just about right.

I think we get a reputation for being rude. Well! I’ll grant you this: we’re not effusively friendly, so if you’re looking for that, you might need to stay out of the five boroughs. To say that New Yorkers have their guard up is an understatement.

Like, for instance, if a stranger strikes up a conversation with you on the street that lasts longer than the ten seconds it takes to ask for directions, grab your wallet and your cell phone, because that stranger is distracting you while their buddy picks your pockets.

“Hello, 911? I would like to report a crime in progress. A STRANGER is CONVERSING with me! Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve been mugged.”

But lately, I’ve been wondering if this is such a good thing.

 

Wonderlane on Flickr

See, I had this dream the other day, about a wedding. Not my wedding! Actually, I can’t even tell you whose wedding it was, some classmate of mine from high school. I was just a guest, there, in my lavender lace peplum dress (cut me some slack, it was a dream!), picking at the passed hors d’oeuvres, sipping a drink, and just —— feeling totally lonely.

The prevailing emotion I remember from this dream was utter isolation — being completely alone in a crowd of people. I watched the other guests laughing and swapping inside jokes, while I struggled to find anyone who would so much as make small talk with me! When the band picked up, I tried to find someone to dance with, but everyone avoided me like I was contagious. I felt so unloved, so invisible, so… iced out… that I told my therapist about it.

Yep, I told my therapist about my stupid dream.

“I don’t want to feel like that,” I wailed. Wailed! I’m pretty sure they heard me across the street atop the Empire State Building. Yep, that view doesn’t suck. And we agreed right there in that session that my new goal in life and therapy would be to work towards cultivating and fostering rich and rewarding relationships with people.

But…how?

Tragically, my therapist believes that my path to better relationships is through letting my guard down. YES! Those skyscraper-sized walls that we New Yorkers are so proud of having built for ourselves? They gotta go. Or so she says. So I tried thawing out my emotional ice palace, and how did it go?

 

Wikimedia Commons

Well, I learned something pretty hard, pretty quickly: you really can’t make people be vulnerable with you just by being vulnerable with them.

It’s a little like trying to hug one of those skyscrapers: you can run at a wall, full force, with your arms wide open, but you’re probably going to hurt yourself.  Plus, think about it: there is a nontrivial chance that somebody peed against the side of that building.

Hey! It’s New York. We have no problem pissing in public, but opening up to each other? Ew. No. That’s gross. Stop it.

“Hello, 911? I’d like to report a crime taking place? Yeah, someone’s trying to talk about feelings. I KNOW! It’s HAWRRible!” 

See, I’m one of these people who always wants the QUICK FIX. Are you also one of these people? I feel like I’m not alone here. Like, if there’s a problem, I’d rather not know about it, unless I can fix it. You don’t need to tell me that’s unhealthy, I’m already in therapy, I know it is!

So I’m working on this whole “defrosting” thing, and it’s …

well, for one thing, it’s TEDIOUS. Tiring and confusing and hard. And it’s not exactly a problem that’s solved for good once it’s solved. It’s a little bit like — well, you know I love my metaphors! So, it’s a little bit like making a cup of tea.

 

Pexels

Now, when I make tea, I never drink all of it at once. Sometimes it’s way too hot, and you can’t handle it. So it is with emotionally raw and vulnerable conversations! And then time passes, and sometimes… you know…the tea gets “cool.” Or, in other words, “emotionally frigid.” So you have to heat it up again, but then again it’s too hot to handle, and then it gets cold, and so on and so forth until you FINALLY finish the tea which is to say, YOU DIE.

Probably? I’m guessing.

So this “cool” aloofness, while it’s served me really well towards my goal of being the funny girl, has actually been keeping me from forming real, warm, loving connections with other people. Maybe it’s time to stop being so “cool”?

I guess if I’m going to get what I want out of life — which is, to be a part of that happy crowd of friends and lovers — I’m gonna have to thaw it out a bit. As my therapist asks me all the time, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

And I guess it’s gotta be easier than trying to get the Empire State Building to return my calls.

 

Sam Valadi, Flickr

featured image via Pixabay

15 thoughts on “THE BIG THAW 

  1. I can relate to this…especially relocating to New Mexico from the Southern New York (Florida). *laugh* I was in a store here, and one of the staffers went “Can I help you, ma’am?” I was instantly on guard. “What, what do you want?”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. EXACTLY! That’s EXACTLY what I thought! I suspect the other residents in my rural-ish compound think I’m completely paranoid and neurotic. *Iaugh* “WHY ARE YOU HANGING OUT AND TALKING IN MY DRIVEWAY RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FRONT DOOR, ALMOST? What the hell is wrong with you people?” *dials 911*

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Well, I learned something pretty hard, pretty quickly: you really can’t make people be vulnerable with you just by being vulnerable with them.”

    That line especially resonated for me because I’m a pretty open person–and like being one–but it doesn’t mean you’ll get like for like out there. Too many insecure folks (and a raft of people interested in keeping them that way). So, I think maybe you do have to just launch out, and let the chaff fall by the wayside. Some people will respond. Few, perhaps, but they’ll be worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok. First, I must tell you I’m from North Carolina. Yep. The south. I was born in a small town much like Anytown, USA in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Everybody knows everybody. We speak to everybody and get a quick update from them on “How’s you Momma-an-em? The man I married after meeting him in college, (Him in undergrad, me in grad) went home to take over his parents real estate business. I eventually moved there to be with him and eventually marry, have four kids and many animals on his family farm surrounded by suburbia. I thought living in the largest city in NC would be different than my Whiteville, NC upbringing. Well perhaps in uptown Charlotte, NC there are people who are imports who don’t wish to speak to strangers. That might last for a little while but eventually, our friendly natures and conversational skills win newbies over and they start talking to every clerk in every check-out lane in every store. I suppose a small percentage don’t cross over to the “talkative” side, but most do.

    I must also say, when I travel to supposedly unfriendly areas, like up north, in New England states, I forget all about that and talk to folks just like I do at home. Many say they like the accent. I tell them, “I like yours too.” Then if it’s a restaurant, I ask things like what do people come here to eat? I smile a lot and usually win folks over when I do my “I’m as cute as a puppy” charm.

    I’ve been in NY but never into the actual city. When I do, I will be on the lookout for people I may scare. I like your writing by the way. I’ll look for more.
    Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lisa! Yours sounds like an adorable, Gilmore-Girls-Practical-Magic small-town charm! There’s definitely a mode that clicks on when talking to people you have reason to talk to: baristas, waiters, nurse practitioners, etc. I can be talkative when I have to be! And I appreciate, as someone who has been in the other side of the cash register, when people are friendly and talk to you – otherwise there’s this awful “you are my servant, just ring up my purchases and don’t look me in the eye” vibe.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You nailed it. Having worked in my parent’s retail ladies store for years and then as a bank teller before becoming a counselor, I appreciate the fun talk and even banter which makes the workday much more pleasant and may even seem shorter. I can tell you have great conversation and people skills with your humor and dare I say this? Almost folksy style. I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Could make up the spiel of a stand-up comedian. You do have the comic’s timing, and your persona links with your readers’ experiences in the same way it would with a nightclub audience. There is a universality to your humorous situations. Dang git, you’re just a good writer, Meghan.

    Liked by 1 person

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