“… and this young gentleman over here,” the mother said as she, her husband, [Jodi] (a nurse) and the baby passed me in the hall, “has just been smiling the whole time.”
“Well,” said [Jodi], “it’s a croup. And when it comes with asthma, it really does sound terrible, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. We get used to it.”
It’s incredible the things that you get used to when you practice it enough I guess. I mean, I’m not doctor, but nowadays crying children don’t even faze me. I pay more attention when I hear a kid gasping for breath, but I’ve learned that if the kid isn’t rolling their eyes and doesn’t have blue lips, they’ll live. It doesn’t mean that you take your time, but it does mean that you can be casual enough for some calm small talk or a smile in passing. That is, I think, a large part of the hospitalcraft here– the reassurance.
Reassurance is so important to people when they’re in a situation where they don’t know what’s going on. You go into something, having the best of intentions and high hopes, but you never really know how it will turn out. And even if fate has already decided how this will turn out, and even if you know that you can’t change this, you still want to know the progress bar’s progress because you want to know just which turns you’re making before getting to that destination.
It’s a compulsion that humans have– to be acknowledged, even if for no useful reason.
“Congratulations man!” says [Jay] sometime a couple of days ago. He shakes my hand. “You made it through that one alive.”
Yeah, Thanksgiving dinner with [Supergirl]’s friends wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought it would be.
“If it were me, and I had to go into a room full of people I didn’t know, man, nevermind. I just wouldn’t do it,” he remarked. “When I was in Philipines, I was wigging out all the time man. I mean, the room is full of people I don’t know and /en plus/ they’re all speaking tagalog.”
I thought about that– well, there were only 6 people in total at Supergirl’s Thanksgiving thing, so that really means there were only 4 people there that I didn’t know. Regardless, yeah, I guess it was a bit nerve wracking at first. Usually I invite random people to join in and be assimilated by my group of friends, it doesn’t usually happen the other way around.
Whenever a stressful situation hits a person, it goes towards fight or flight. If it’s a flight, then people naturally tend to look over their shoulders and see if they’re still being followed. If it’s a fight, then we want to check and see if our efforts are making any impact on the situation.
Social situations are nothing short of a battlefield to me. It doesn’t matter if I’m not the organizer of an event– if you dump in in a room of people, automatically I need to make sure that the lowest common denominator is small, and that things are simple, and the everyone there is having a good time.
But how does one do that, exactly? I mean, know that people are having a good time?
The Thanksgiving situation was a special scenario– it was like ‘meet the parents’ day, as I mentioned, because all these people are very important to Supergirl. This wasn’t the sort of gathering I could afford to make a bad impression at.
With some people, it’s easier than with others to get an idea of what people are feeling. The more people you meet in life the more you get a sense of just what people are like, you recognize patterns or techniques that different people use in public. Profiles. MOs.
So you learn to see the difference between real genuine laughter and nervous laughter. Maybe between sarcasm and naivety. Things like that.
Sometime you meet people who are being ‘deceptive’ with the way they react to you– but even if they are doing that, it’s not to say they’re bad people. Sometimes they’re doing that because they know something you don’t, or because they’re trying to spare you some embarassment– I mean, not everyone reacts 1:1 with a situation honestly and purely.
A few days ago, I confessed to Zanshin that there was something strange about [Supergirl] that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was something about her ki.
Now, if you read a lot of my blogs, you’ll really be able to get a good sense of the kind of flow that my life is used to. It’s generally got a lot of ups and downs, with a lot of it being driven forcefully by willpower. It has something to do with me being very impatient– I’m sure that patience is a virtue, but if I could make a list of mine, it’s by no means anywhere near the top. It’s a very ‘hard style’ of living. I like to think that when it comes to the way I use my ki, I’m the sort who likes to kick ass and take names.
Supergirl is completely different– she’s the first person I’ve ever dated who truly has a ‘soft style’ ki flow. I mean, nothing really seems to upset her, she doesn’t seem to have any problems in life that are bad enough to really complain about… it’s as if she’s the paragon buddhist.
Of course, I know that it’s impossible that she’s that perfect, and I know that my perception of her will change over time, but at the moment– that’s what I’m getting. While a situation for me requires results and decisiveness, she’s okay to wait and see how things turn out and to just go with a feeling rather than an answer.
And it’s not that she’s lazy or indifferent– that’s not what I mean by a ‘soft style’ of flow. What I mean is that she does things softly, quietly. Not in a dainty way, just– in a way that I don’t know how to do things.
It’s like wrestling against an empty jacket that always manages to neutralize your every attempt to do things your way.
It’s not that she’s the opposite of me, but it’s just that she goes about her life in a way that is so different from anyone else I’ve ever known. I have nothing to compare her to, I don’t know how to handle her.
She drives me crazy. In the good way.
Sometimes, when I manage to slow myself down to, for a moment, jump on the same wavelenth as her, it’s as if she’s just shown me the true meaning of Christmas or something.
She makes me feel like a bad person, but not in a bad way. In the way that I want to be more of a man, in the important, true sense of the word.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a relationship and I’d really forgotten how much of an emotional rollorcoaster things are, especially in the begining.
“This way I’ll stop bumping into you, because I’ll know exactly where you are,” I had said when I held her hand for the first time. “… at least, that’s my story. I’m smooth, aren’t it?”
“Uhhh….” she’d laughed at my lameness. “Sure! Okay. If that’s what you want to think.”
There was something strange though, and that was that when I held her hand, her hand had no ‘feeling’ to it. I mean, I held it, but she didn’t really hold -back-. Yet, when I watched her expression, it wasn’t as if she disliked it.
I’ll be honest– sometimes, I do things ahead of myself. Sometimes I do something just as an idea and hope that the feeling will follow. Holding her hand was one such idea– it felt like the ‘textbook’ thing to do, so I did it, before I even really felt inside that it was the right thing to do.
It was the same thing at some point when I put my arms around her from behind while she was cooking. I kissed her hair, she tensed up a bit, and relaxed, smiled, but that was it. Not much of a ‘reaction.’ But again, I think I was textbooking it.
In my head I took it that maybe “she’s just not that into you.” But you know, how could that be any worse than me going through these ‘motions’ of an intimate couple when in fact, what I was doing was just testing her?
I guess the thing about being in the first days of a relationship, especially with all that new gound to cover as a probationary couple just out of the casual acquaintances zone, I’m the kind of person who tends to just mull over the post-date replay in my head and try to figure out every little detail.
As a gamer, that’s what I do– I try to figure out how to optimize how I’ll play the next round during the downtime. I think I overthink.
And maybe that’s why I enjoy real life so much more than games sometimes– because in a game, you can always try all the possibilities, and you can always play the same scenario again. But in real life, there are higher stakes. You can lose, you don’t get to reload a previous save.
You can make bad impressions, you can make bad moves.
And I sometimes forget that people are people– they’re not games, and that while in a fantasy world you can do things you wouldn’t normally do, the most important thing to remember in real life is yourself. Because you only have that one identity.
I was talking to [NimbusTheDragon] about this and I voiced my concern that I was having difficulty reading her. The conclusion in the end though was simply: so what? Can I really go into a relationship, especially in the begining, with anything less than 100%? Can I really keep looking over my shoulder, or trying to check for a reaction? I mean, what am I going to do– change mself radiacally if I don’t get the reaction or the reassurance that I want?
I let it all go. I stopped trying to gague her reactions. I stopped trying so hard to impress her. I gave into who I was I guess and took a take it or leave it attitude.
Not that I wouldn’t change for her (within reason) but I figured, lets start with who I am.
And then, as if it was the key, I saw the sign.
As a few days later, as I sat beside her at Tokebis as [NitroNilla] and [TheGrendel] argued about something totally assanine yet hilarious, I held her hand under the table. Without thinking about it. And she squeezed back.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, I’m sure.
Nor will it sound relevant that the next time I held tightly and tacitly from behind, because I was caught up with how she was specifically making me a dish of omurice that I hadn’t had since I left Asia, she leaned her head against my arms and held me back. It all sounds like stupid little things, it sounds especially stupid when nothing is said, but somehow, that was all I had to do.
I just had to relax. Stop forcing myself. Recalibrate my ki and handle this relationship not as another challenge, as another thing to agressively simplify and optimize– just as something to slow down and feel.
At that very moment, I was the happiest I’d been in a long time, and all it took was a little squeeze.
The thing is, and I’m not sure, because we’ve not discussed it, but I’m under the impression that Supergirl’s not been through as many relationships as I have. So, she’s really shy about certain things. It feels as if part of the way she is is that when she ends up in a situation that she doesn’t understand or isn’t used to, she doesn’t try to cover it up. She just waits to see what will happen next. That’s partly what I mean by her soft style ‘ki.’
If it were me, and I was in a situation that I didn’t understand, what would I do? I would try to force myself to blend in. Or I’d try to change the scenario into one that i’d be more comfortable with. Her method of just waiting right there, and neither fighting not flighting, just waiting– it makes no sense to me! It’s a different school altogether.
So here I am, the person who is used to poking and probing and trying to get a reaction that I can use. Like making bluffs or information bets in poker. But she never reacts to anything that’s not real.
“I.. have trouble reading you,” I confessed later. “There’s something about your ki that doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t make heads or tails of it sometimes.”
“Well,” she replied, “I hope you stick around long enough to figure it out then.”
But if love is like a devil, twisting and tricky, then the devil’s in the details. And we will catch it, I suppose, following but one trick at a time.