Don't make a habit of collecting little keys that lock out the things in your life that scare you. They lock you in.
So, I have a date. Don't get excited: it's not with the Dentist. It's with a friend from work. Who's married. And a girl. We live in the same apartment complex and often end up on the shuttle home at the same time. We've been talking, and she's very nice. I told her about the Dentist; she thinks I should go for it. She told me about her husband, who lives in Florida, and her brother, who just shipped out to Iraq.
I've never been good at making new friends. Nearly all the people I'm really close to have known me for 5 or more years, and most of them go back farther than that. I don't know what it is, really, although more than one person has told me - once we've become the kind of friends that can say these things to each other - that when they met me, they were afraid of or intimidated by me. This used to surprise me, because I generally don't think of myself as a scary person, or someone people ought to be intimidated by. Truth be told, I'm pretty insecure about a lot of things, and it takes a good deal of puffing myself up to even get out the door most mornings.
A friend from law school, who I adore, recently asked me to be in her wedding. I accepted, of course, and I’m honored, but it truly shocked me to be asked. I didn’t get, even though she’d said so plenty of times before, that she thought of me as such a close friend. I thought of her that way, but something in me didn’t really trust that it was reciprocated (and if she’s reading this, I’m sorry about that).
But I think that's the problem - my insecurity causes me to put up a tough front because I don't trust people not to hurt me. I think it got worse after I lost my hearing, too, because so much changed for me, and people I thought were my friends stopped calling and fell out of my life as if we’d never shared anything at all. I spent the majority of my time in the two and a half years between losing my hearing and leaving for law school by myself. And it wasn’t always by choice; often it was by inertia – I didn’t try, and they didn’t either (the exceptions, and there were three, know who they are). So when I ended up in law school, surrounded by people all the time, I was out of practice and completely overwhelmed. It was just easier to be alone.
But some people made the effort: my suitemate first year, we’ll call her Hot Wings, was a pal literally from day one, always good for a beer and a laugh. Surfer Girl stopped me in the law school library bathroom during the second week of classes, we talked for 20 minutes, and we’ve been friends ever since. The Bride, I met her just before second year at Law Review orientation, and we were stuck like glue the whole year. Third year we were both so busy, and we didn’t have any classes together, so we didn't see each other as often, but it didn’t matter. Without the three of them, I probably wouldn’t have lasted the whole three years. But it took me a long time to really believe, and accept, and understand that they’re my friends. I’m working on this, and I think I’m getting better at it.
A couple of weeks ago, standing in line for the shuttle chatting, Work Friend (shut up - my fake-name-making-up skills were depleted in the previous paragraph) handed me her business card, on the back of which she'd written her cell phone number and her address here in the complex. She told me some people from work were going out that weekend, and asked if I wanted to go, but I had to go down to Richmond to get sworn in, so I couldn't make it. I thought she was just making conversation. Earlier this week at work, though, she IM'd me and said there was an extra ticket to a comedy show on Friday night, and would I like to go. I said yes. She emoticon-ed a smiley face.
I feel nervous, but hopeful. It’s a date.