Tonight can be summarized as: a sudden pressure drop in confidence, a sudden outbreak of awkwardness. The bus ride down to my evening class featured pot smokers, an angry bus driver, and a teenager across the road who hit the top deck of the bus with an apple as it pulled away. All of this might have been funny another night but tonight each weird thing was symptomatic of the time being out of joint. (If not the back of the bus.)
When I got back T. was home. I hoped she wouldn’t be, quite yet, so that I’d have a few minutes to take some deep breaths, collect myself, stop feeling like my pants are too SHORT and my arms are too LONG and my new haircut is STRANGE. But there she was. I cycled through sullen (checking e-mail), manic (puffing out my hair, kneeling on the table leaning over her computer), and confessional (complaining about my HAIR and my ARMS and my PANTS). Eventually she said that it seemed like trying to make me feel better wasn’t working, so she was just going to ignore me and get back to work.
Ahem. Talk about old patterns there. That would have been my cue to fall apart and do anything to get her attention. And yet I knew that I’d needed a few moments alone from stepping in the door, just to breathe and let go of the sense of awkwardness and the fear of failing. (The panic that hit me on the walk home: what if I can’t hold onto this? What if I’m ridiculous? What if I get home and realize I’m ridiculous in the eyes of my family and lose all the joy I’ve had over the last few months? What if it’s all coming to a crashing halt? Why did I buy this stupid shirt? And the painful e-mail exchange ongoing with my brother, who still isn’t sure why asking me to be in the closet at his wedding was so devastating, surely wasn’t helpful background to this evening.)
So. I said OK. I recounted a brief anecdote from my class (not awkward: my revelation that I’d had a broken nose, and my teacher suggesting I must have been doing some boxing). I went into the bathroom, stuffed the pants and shirt in the hamper, and let the arms and the hair and the soul sink into the bathtub. Damn, letting go of this stuff is not easy. I think it worked this time; I think we stepped back from the brink. But it is not easy to learn this dance again, same partner, brand new steps.