But isn’t it though? Seriously.
I’m pretty sure my mother gave birth to me in the middle of a traveling carnival, and directly after delivery, placed me in one of those spinning teacups. My teen years were spent on a ride called something like ‘Swirling Dragon’s Breath.’ College: that was the House of Mirrors, forever trying to figure out whether I were going further in or further out. I have been able to avoid the Tunnel of Love, simply because it scares the living daylights out of me. I’d rather imagine what it could be like, idealistically, rather than take that ride, as I’m afraid that in reality the water would smell and the seats would be sticky.
Now? Well, I think I’ve just gotten off the ride that spins you around and around in a circle, and you don’t even need a seat belt, really, because the centrifugal force has fused your spine with the seat back. By the time the ride is over, you don’t even know how to walk straight or which is the ground or the sky. These feet. Where do they go? Who the hell am I? What am I doing here? Yes, that’s me right now. And when I got on the ride I was with all my friends. And now I can’t find a one of them. (No, I don’t mean I feel like my friends have abandoned me. Yes, I feel alone in a foreign country.) The result is that while I wander away from the ride, conscious enough to avoid all the handsy carnies, I have lost a sense of who the heck I am.
I have become polite. Sadly, polite is not an adjective I would usually use to describe myself. But after traveling the United States, staying in other peoples’ homes, speaking in front of groups of strangers and asking them to support me in my vision of helping South Africa’s orphans, I have felt the need to shave off a bit of my rough edges. I continue to feel that pressure as I sit in NACSA board meetings and Fourways Church Staff Meetings. I don’t want to scare any one away, surely.
But I don’t want to lose myself. I’ve been emotional. I’ve felt small and sensitive. But I’ve been neatly trying to tuck all those raw bits away when I am around people, any people.
What is the truth about me? I’m a bit brainy. I like to be right, and I’ll twist anything and everything around to make me so. I like to talk so much that I have full on conversations with myself when no one is around. I say that I don’t get offended easily, but I’ve recently realized that I might be lying to myself on that one. If you give me an inch, I will take over. Once a month, I feel like I may be a step away from becoming a serial killer (This is a hyperbole. If you don’t know what that is, please look it up before reporting me to the authorities.)
I’m a prude, really, but I’ve seen some things. I’m the least sheltered virgin you’ll ever meet. I love to dance, especially to salsa music. I can stay out in a club and dance all night, but I’ll never take a drink, mostly because I don’t like much alcohol, but also because I’ve seen too much Law and Order SVU. Lady Gaga is the most played artist on my ipod, even though I disagree with her basic philosophy on everything. I have a nose ring, but not a single tattoo. I don’t really have any vices other than avoiding reality. Yet it would take quite a lot to shock me morally.
I love getting my hands dirty. I love getting fully dirty actually. I have done PT in the mud, rolled down hills, hiked up mountains, camped in the bush, and gone so many days without showering (because there was none) that I looked several shades darker than I actually was. Spontaneity. Yes. A bit of daring. Please. Bugs. No problem. I’ve even eaten them while abroad.
Kids are like balm to my wind beaten heart, and we speak each other’s language. They feel like fools most of the time and are desperately trying to hide it. I know I’m a fool all of the time and embrace it. I make them feel at home in their own skin.
If you haven’t seen the goofy side of me, you have no idea who I am. I was called ‘serious’ once. Hardly. I have a dry sense of humor, but that’s about as close as that gets. I was obviously not comfortable around that person. She never heard me singing show tunes at the top of my lungs in the shower. She never saw me pantomiming in front of my ESL students, or playing pretend with my little cousins or my friends’ kids. And she certainly never saw me getting down at a wedding. ‘Melodramatic.’ That’s a more accurate description. I’ve even been accused of being ‘bubbly’, which is definitely more on the mark than serious, but I think I prefer ‘demonstrative’. And don’t get me started on my facial expressions. There is a disconnect between my mind and my face. My face betrays me on a regular basis. Sometimes it reveals what I’m trying to hide. Other times it’s off scaring small children while I’m merely trying to remember my grandmother’s cashew nut gravy recipe.
I am loyal and I never give up. Once I love a person, I love them for life. But I am a difficult friend. See above.
I’m a fighter. I will use any means necessary to come out the other side a victor. Nails. Biting. Misdirection. Push me against a wall, and I will come out swinging. Any quick moves, and you might get an elbow in the eye, especially after I’ve just gotten off the centrifugal force ride. But there haven’t been any quick moves. Just loving, outstretched arms. Maybe that’s what is throwing me off. Too much kindness. Don’t get me wrong. Keep it coming. But who am I, if the fighter in me is disarmed, made into a docile, polite person? I’m a little bored with myself, honestly. Unimpressed.
I feel like provoking a fight. But I don’t want to fight my new friends because they’re currently being too nice to me. Maybe it’s me I need to pick a fight with. Kick myself in the butt and just be myself, all of myself openly. There must be a balance to this, however. It’s one thing to type up all your quirks in a blog entry in a witty manner, and quite another to expose unsuspecting bystanders to the full force of a passionate, emotional, strong personality. I’ll figure it out eventually.