As an English Teaching major married to a Chemical Engineering student, I spend a lot of time at home alone, reading, writing lesson plans, and procrastinating papers. One thing I was not expecting when I began to date Michael more seriously was how quickly my relationships with my girl friends would dwindle. Of course, when we finally get together over lunch at Guru's or Zupa's or even the Cougar Eat, we talk just the way we used to. It's the frequency of the talks, one every two or three months, that eats me. Girls, you know there are some things that just aren't the same when you talk to your significant other about them. Over the past three years, I have handled this seclusion on a scale of crying every night to basking in the peace and quiet. But now the peace and quiet has gone on too long. Something terrifying is happening to me.
In high school, I considered myself the good listener--it was one of my redeeming qualities. I would spend hours driving around American Fork or up the canyon, even up through Alpine, while my friends while they talked about their lives. (Unless you were Quinci. Dear Quinci, I'm sorry that I did way more than my fair share of talking without listening. But I am really grateful for you.) Boys. Girls. School. Drama. Religion. Family. The Past. The Future. I listened to it all, nodding my head, bestowing pieces of sage advice before inviting my dear friend to continue. I loved it because of the connection I felt to those people, because of the love I could feel growing through understanding. It was my identity.
I've lost that part of me and I don't know where to find it.
I had noticed it before, but last week I finally had an experience that grabbed hold of my backpack and wrenched me around to face the truth. I ran into Jessica at the library as we both dropped off our library books, and she asked me the question. The one that opens the floodgates of my unorganized words upon any unsuspecting individual who I can see actually cares.
"How are you doing?"
These days, once my mouth opens, it takes a while to close. We walked out of the library, past the Wilk, down the steps, up the sidewalk, and when we reached the point where she would go left down the hill to her apartment, I would go right, across campus, to mine, I suddenly realized that I had not given her the chance to say a word.
Two hours after I got home, I seriously had no idea what I was saying to Jessica or why. And honestly, I was shocked by my behavior. Four years ago this would never have happened. Somehow, though, in my lonesomeness, the Me Monster inside has wriggled its way out of its cage. [If you don't know the reference, do yourself a favor and watch this clip:]
At least now that I'm conscious of my narcissistic tendency, I can watch out for the times when the Me Monster escapes--usually it is preceded by a large assignment that gobbles away the time usually spent on the phone with my mom or unwinding with my husband. Other times, though, I open one thought's door and it's lurking in the closet wearing a fang-y grin. I'm still looking for patterns, so don't be surprised one day if a Me Monster pounces when you ask a simple question.