This post all began from attending a journalism seminar at a graduate school, when a lovely man happened to sit next to me and say something kind.
I always let these opportunities go. I get so flustered. I become not myself.
During the seminar on longform journalism, I ended up not paying attention and finding more excitement in drawing the guest speakers. I thought I was in my personal zone, by myself. But to my surprise, the well-groomed dashing blonde male graduate Journalism student next to me whispers over my right shoulder "That's nice." and I reply, digging my chin toward my chest, eyes looking somewhere I don't even remember, my mouth forming a pursed, smitten smile, "thanks." I felt my cheeks begin to blush then start to flare as I realize what just happened.
I never think I'm cool enough to associate with cool older people like that or people who think they're older and cooler or people who don't even think they themselves are cool but they are just older so they look cool. I feel like they don't appreciate me. Maybe that whole Perks of Being a Wallflower quote was right, "you love the people you think you deserve." I can't love or simply like these people even if they are just like me but happen to have a facade of cool. I can't do it, because I don't think I deserve it. So, I somehow make men who don't deserve me begin to love me instead. Like the security guard at the Met, and the regular at 30 Rock. That's what they all are. Regulars. But I know I'm not regular...
The fellow chats with the lady sitting on the other side of him. She is older than me. She wears glasses, an embroidered pencil skirt probably from Anthropologie with a nice blouse maybe from an indie version of Ann Taylor. She looks like she reads. She looks average height. She looks well-bred, appreciative of groceries at Whole Foods. She is "mature" I suppose. They talk about this discussion, exhibit their knowledge. I remain conversating through my red pen, sketching and taking notes. I am a party of one.
He quietly sneezes. I whisper bless you because I don't think it'd be awkward since he complimented my personal doodles. He takes a glance at me and hushes back thank you. We establish an official charming recreational relationship.
He goes up to the mic in the aisle to ask his question, to get his fair share of intellectual excitement. As he comes back to sit, he looks at my size 5 oxford shoes, and says he likes them, and excitedly shows me his, pointing out that our shoes are identical except his more manly. Of course, I had already noticed ten minutes ago that we were wearing similar shoes when he crossed his legs so his right foot flirted with my personal space. I laugh, "oh yeah! they're the same! Except mine are ten times smaller." He says, "yeah, they're much cuter that way." He talked to me like I was just like him. I guess if I stripped myself of my insecurities, ignored the fact that he is kind of hulkingly dashing and I am miniscule-y young, we would be equals.
As the seminar is over, she leaves. He leaves. They talk about "J school." I put on my earmuffs, feeling childish as everyone else around me envelopes themselves in stiff coats and adult jackets. I proceed to wear my powder blue gloves with gold charms. He suggests grabbing coffee with her, talking about journalism thesis. I keep packing up, as if I have somewhere to go. I pretend I don't remember our recreational relationship, just like when I feigned surprise at our twin shoes and when I realized we are alike in our honesty, in our friendship, in an aspiration for intellectualism.
We are all leaving the auditorium and he pauses at the door, probably to catch her number. I walk past, I push the door open, I have work to do. I turn left and speedwalk down the block. I am busy. I make a right at Madison Ave. I just came here for business. I turn left on 33rd. I had no meaning, no place here. I sprint down the station steps, swipe my card and ride the train home. Every step reminds me of how much further I am from him. He's lost me. I lost him. Good. He probably forgot about me as soon as he left the building, while I just thought about how I needed to write out this powerful elixir of emotions that I am so frustrated to feel yet again but this time with a vengeance.
He has more mature friends anyway. He will probably have a sophisticated coffee chat on journalism theses with the glasses girl. They will exchange mature phone numbers. They will have a mature cup of coffee. They will have a mature date. They will exchange mature glances. They will make mature love.
But I realize, I am actually that mature. I am just like him. I seem incapable of accepting the fact that my size and my penchant for patterned earmuffs does not define my maturity. I am no longer of the maturity where I need to succumb to shyness if someone flatters my doodles. I can accept that as an adult, as a...wait for it...twenty year old.
I always wonder, what kind of "dude" will end up being the guy "for me?" I scan the list of males in my age range--all of them instigating negative feedback. But maybe, a daunting graduate student is something I should no longer be afraid of. Maybe I should realize, I can deserve a lot more than what's been said is love for the stereotypical college girl. I guess this is twenty. But who am I to know about age or about love, I am so small, I could never deserve something so mature.