I am being stalked

I am being stalked.

Not by an ex-boyfriend, disgruntled colleague, or crazed parent (this time). No, I am being stalked by a thought.  It only showed up yesterday, and so it may be a little soon to call in the Orwellian Thought Police, but I have a feeling it wants to stay.

During my weekend Facebooking yesterday—differentiated from my weekday practice by actually reading posts and shared news stories and not just clicking on funny gif’s like a nicotine addicted monkey—I finally realized that a friend of mine might be having relationship trouble. After checking in and confirming, I wrote her back a note pledging my support and comparing notes on our respective life transitions (I am done with 13 years as a public school teacher on June 3rd).  As I ended my missive, hoping it would help her breathe a little more easily, the stalker slipped in with the last line.

“There’s no way to do this wrong thankfully, since it hasn’t been done before, at least not by me.”

Hold up there…there’s no way to do this wrong? Aren’t you a tall, dark, handsome stranger of a thought!  Fortunately, I’m protected from such a seductive yet menacing arrival by my immense distrust of the overly good looking.  Ryan Gosling?  Nuh-uh…likely a cyborg, but a dog with three legs?  Yes, please.  That dude has known suffering and is still hobbling around sniffing butts with a smile on its face.

There’s no way to do this wrong…pssssh. I’ve been thinking of ways this career transition can go wrong for almost a year now, only half believing myself when I say things to people like:

Whether it’s right or wrong, I’ll definitely learn something.

Or…Regardless of outcome, it’s time to do it.

Or, my favorite because it is has an epic ring to it…If not now, when?

Like farts there’s no way to do this wrong. But what if? Damn it!  I know better than to speak the magic words, the ones that historically open my locked doors.  I drew in a sharp breath as my stalker gained physical weight.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had a thought put on flesh and bones and a suave tuxedo with tails before, but it is a moment more surprising than any Cinderella story.

How would it be possible to not do this wrong, I wondered as I left the house for the afternoon.

Because you know your yes, your no is coming out of the fog, and your maybe allows for just the right amount of adventure for your nervous little heart.  You’ve learned how to listen…you’ll know when to follow.

Sorry, not good enough. Logic dictates that some things are right and some things are wrong.  Some things are good and some things are bad.  Logic jumped up and uncharacteristically high fived me (in my brain of course, just in case you were wondering where all these characters came from all of a sudden).

“ABSOLUTES ARE HOW I’VE KEPT YOU ALIVE ALL THESE YEARS.”

I nodded my head as I got into my Uber to go visit a friend’s cat in the hospital. Not two minutes into the drive, driver Mike and I were talking about what made for a fulfilled life, and he was sharing with me quite earnestly the process he’d gone through to be able to say, at 46, that he accepted himself.  I was moved as I always am by shared intimacy.  As I got out of the car, I realized he had dropped me two or three blocks shy of the actual address.  Sigh. There is no way to do this wrong. Creatress showed up as I walked.

“doN’tttt GET me rrrrrong, LoGiC has its place…butt yo’ure gOINg 2 have toooo kill me if U Want Me To ShuT UP everagain.” Frick.  Creatress had a point too I thought as she twirled off to melt borders and devise schemes.  I was going to have to deal with both she and Logic as I decided what to do with my stalker.

Leaving the animal hospital later, I had put this new presence out of my mind. I was sitting on a sunny bench waiting for my next Uber, thinking back to a time this morning over Mary Oliver and waffles that was not so fraught with choices, when I glanced to the empty spot at the right of me. There’s no way to do this wrong. The whole right side of my body tingled as petaled nerve endings strained towards water.  My stalker was back.  With a shock I realized that I wanted to hold its hand, like you do on a first date, inch by inch, till finally the pinkies touch.

Problems with this:

  1. You can’t hold hands with a thought.
  2. You shouldn’t hold hands with a suspected stalker.
  3. It’s Los Altos and you are wearing cut off jean shorts and flip flops. If you add ‘bench caressing’ to this list of transgressions, someone really might call the cops.

I didn’t do it, but I will note that my car that was supposed to be 12 minutes away never showed up. Almost thirty minutes and five texts later, I cancelled and requested another car.  I was given plenty of time to think about who I was sharing a bench with, and later when I laid down to take a nap it spooned right up to me, undeterred.  It was a decidedly awkward pleasure-pain confusion, and I woke up unrested, way too soon, with heart racing.

There’s no way to do this wrong.

Later that night I was finally feeling able to wade into the world of home internet to try and purchase service. I’m giving up both my free wifi at work and my work laptop in five days, so it’s time to pony up for my own (or install a lightning rod or make up an internet dance–I really have no idea how it works).  Since I was busy trying to find a compromise between wanting the cheapest thing possible and something that actually worked, I was annoyed when the stalker made its presence known again.

There’s no way to do this wrong.

Like hell there’s not. If I can’t fucking pay for it then it’s wrong!!!

No, its just not paid for.

Wait.

What?

Oh.  Ooooooohhhhhh!

You mean the thing that happens and the judgment of the thing that happens are different?  Woah.  Then why am I so eager to either be proven “right” or avoid being “wrong”?  My new stalker boyfriend couldn’t answer that question, and frustratingly he didn’t even try.  He was content just to laugh at my overthinking face and wake up with me again this morning.  Our pinkies were touching.

It may take a while for me to develop a true love affair with gentleness, and in fairness I’ve come a long way in that pursuit. However, for now it is still met with a mix of suspicion and longing.  I imagine there is great freedom on the other side of labeling actions right or wrong.  Following handsome strangers in a crowd, just because you can, does seem like great fun.