Living in the gray (for Angela)

Last week I was talking with my friend Angela over the phone, between classes and while walking my dog so she could poop. We were talking about how humans find comfort and safety living in the black or living in the white. Meaning, is it comfier to act and make decisions within defined terms or expectations. It can be easier to say “I’m attracted to men” or “I’m attracted to women” instead of saying “I’m attracted to men and women, depending on the person, or the day.” It can be easier to stick with your “good job” rather than going out on a limb and following your potentially poorly-compensated, unstable passion. It can be scary to live “in the gray”, so we often don’t. We stick within the definitions.

Last night I found myself desperately trying to land in the black or in the white. I was on a double date. No, not a date with four people/two couples, but one where there was me and there were two men, Male A & Male B. Those weren’t their real names. Somehow I thought it was a good idea to take a big stone and kill all the birds at once, really annihilate them, so I allowed myself to let my friends set me up on this double date and meet all the potentials at once. It was at Hoodoo, it was the end of election week, and hoards of Fairbanksians were happy to unwind with some brewskis. A-buzz was the atmosphere.

My friend (Friend C; also not her real name) and I chatted with A to start the evening off. A had earlier in the week kindly told C that he wasn’t interested in her romantically, in response to her asking if he was looking for someone to be romantic with, but really C was asking him on my behalf. Following?

That’s how we opened it all up, how he had “rejected” her but was open to meeting me. So, that felt vulnerable.

Then Male B walked in with my Friend D (!). I went to introduce myself to B and left C chatting with A. We started right in by talking about how he uses the Murie showers (which are single rooms) to trim his beard instead of using bathrooms with multiple sinks. I agreed, and volunteered that it would be like shaving my legs in the open in a public bathroom. Great response!

This all quickly became really challenging for me. Meeting people and really getting to know them in an interesting way is hard at a place like Hoodoo. I felt tense and upset. I felt like I was really bad at this whole thing. B was talking to a friend for a while and eventually left her to get another beer. I swooped in like a mighty bird of prey and asked for his number. He gave it to me and asked if I was going to Babefest at the Pub later to see the Fairbanks League of Women Wrestlers…wrestle. I said yes. I saw him there and tried my best to “chat” but I just felt like I was drowning. Trying to appear a) interested, intelligent, and calm, while projecting b) nonchalance, humility, and captivating energy. All at once. What??

So after the first round of wrestling I said goodbye to everyone and went to my car and to my pup and went home. My mind was reeling. I felt so ungrounded. I had the number of an attractive intelligent male yet I felt confused what to do with it. I felt so in the gray and wanted desperately to be in the black or the white, i.e. to have really hit it off with B or to really know that I hadn’t hit it off with B. I wanted to feel like it all wasn’t a big deal, but it was. I wanted to have steely nerves and emotions, but I don’t. So I go on to learn to live with this grayness. And for my dad’s peace of mind, I’m also going easy on myself with this one.

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