As You Are
I could be a passenger on a space ship, traveling intergalactically, dreaming of distant stars and lives, but no, I’m here on a writer’s retreat now invaded by my grandmother and best friend. Have you ever felt like you were finally breaking away from all of the bindings that other people placed on you? That made you someone who they thought you were rather than who you thought you were? I felt that way yesterday. I felt free, but now I feel like I could be sinking into some deep muck or returning to that muck because people who thought they knew me, knew me only one way.
Megan is flirting with Steve. Because she’s Megan she sees Steve for the incredible person he is. Because I am me, I only saw a beard and tattoos to begin with. How does one become that person who doesn’t see a person’s outside first, but their inside? How do I become that person?
“He’s just perfect for Megan,” Grams says as she places a glass of iced tea on the table between us. “It’s about time she finds someone good for her. He’s very nice and cute.”
“I like him,” I say, quietly, as if it’s a confession to a horrible deed.
Gram looks at me suddenly. “What?” Her voice raises an octive.
I look at her. “I like him. A lot.”
She raises an eyebrow then looks from me to him and back again. “He’s not your type.”
“He’s kind and smart and sweet and it’s too late because really good guys never look twice at me because I’m just so extremely dysfunctional. Why did I have to have parents who would rather be off digging up soil in foreign places than making sure that their single child, their only daughter, grew up like a civilized human being?”
“You like him,” Gram repeats.
“Then ask Megan to back down.”
I look at Gram as if she has grown two heads. “Megan deserves to be happy. He’s great. He may be the greatest guy I’ve met. Ever.”
“So you’re willing to let him go? For Megan?”
Could someone just stab me now? Megan has been the magnet for really bad guys because she’s so nice. I’ve never been good at relationships because I’m me, and let’s face it, I’m judgmental and sometimes unkind and even though I don’t involve myself in altercations, I’m uncomfortably blunt.
Megan is smiling at Steve in a way I’ve never seen her do with anyone else. Her heart isn’t only on her sleeve, it’s on every single part of her dress. And Steve is smiling openly at her. And I can’t blame him. Even if I wish it were me. Carp.
“I don’t think I have a choice. Look at her. Why would any guy ever prefer me to her? Unless he was insane…and I’ve had my fill of those.”
“I can’t believe you’re dismissing yourself like that,” Gram says.
I laugh, but it’s one of those humorless laughs. “I know who and what I am. I’m a dysfunctional introvert who men think is initially pretty until they get to know me and then they just think I’m scary and snooty and can’t get away quickly enough.”
Gram laughs. “Is that what you think?”
I look at her and think, well, duh.
“I don’t understand why you would see yourself that way. You’re as sweet as Megan. Yes, you do tend to unfairly judge people. At the beginning. I blame that on your parents. But you always remain open. That’s why you like Steve. He is against your grain, but you like him anyway.”
“But it’s still too late,” I whisper.
“I’m not telling you to compete with Megan, but just show him a little bit of who you really are, Calista. You’re a star, dear, even if you don’t want to admit it.”