Saturday, February 1, 2014

Shades Of Gray

I'm the type of person who sees things as black and white. Something is either acceptable or not, right or wrong, good or bad - you get the idea. The first lines of A Tale Of Two Cities could be my biography. This also seems to relate to the people in my life. I have a strong, polarizing personality. People either tend to really like me, or want nothing to do with me. And the feeling is usually mutual. There are very few people who say, "Eh, she's ok" when my name is brought up in polite conversation. And this is not hearsay. When you're exceedingly blunt, people tend to talk to you the same way. It's not that I don't have a filter, it just has very large holes. A basketball could probably pass through with ease. I actually do blame this on my Catholic upbringing. We were told that the mysterious man-in-the-sky was always watching. Every action either earned you a white dot, or a black dot in the magic book. So as a child, I was constantly counting the dots I had earned throughout the day, judging everything I had done as either black-dot-worthy or white-dot-worthy. Like a spiritual balance sheet. And St. Peter was the accountant that tallied them up at the end of your life upon arriving at the pearly gates. One black dot too many, and Poof! Off to the fiery depths. I was convinced my future was red-hot.

I started looking for the gray in my 20's. Literally. I was 23-years old and found a gray hair while checking the rearview mirror in my car. While I was driving. I almost had a wreck. I've heard that gray hair runs in the family, and I don't remember a time when my mother did not have gray hair. She informed me, while I was breathing into a paper bag, that she also started finding gray hair when she was my age. Another score in the genetic jackpot. I also starting finding the figurative gray. My first few years of teaching, I was a bit of a battle-axe. The rules were the rules. Black and white. I have learned that exceptions are sometimes necessary. Knowing when to make one is an art form, and I set the goal to become the exception Picasso. My filter eventually started catching a bit more, only letting through golf-ball sized oopsies. I'm pretty sure that's about as good as it's going to get. Having to be a professional has also taught me how to work with people whom I normally wouldn't want to deal with. It's often not easy, but is always worth it. Especially when you are up-chucking at 5 am and they agree to photocopy some lesson plans for you. I guess we all grow up eventually. Although my psyche still feels acne-laden and hormonal from time-to-time.

The other day I found myself ensconced in one of those seriously in-depth conversations you can only have with a friend who knows you better than you know yourself. I was bemoaning the state of my current dating situation. Specifically wondering why the guys who you are most interested in never seem to be all that interested in you. I got the cock-eyed eyebrow look that I hate, because you know the next thing they say is going to shake you to your soul like a magnitude 8.5 earthquake. I was then informed that I tend to try to make things out to be something other than they are, instead of going with the flow. After a fair bit of denial and requests to explain it again, I finally realized it's another manifestation of the black-or-white situation. I'm either all-in or all-out. And if he's not there, I just pretend he is. And then get mad when it's not working. Totally fair, right? So I've now decided I need to start searching for the gray in relationships. Wish me luck.

I have made my peace with my gray hair. But the gray eyebrows I've been finding are another thing entirely.

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