vendredi 1 février 2008

fair warning

I just got the confirmation that my best friend from grade school and her little sister are coming to visit in late March. I have two other friends pledging to visit me this year. This concerns me a great deal.

I love you guys, and it's not that I don't want you to come and that I would take no pleasure in showing you the city, it's just that, and this is going to sound terrible, but...I don't want you to see me. Not this way.

I'm afraid of what you're going to think of me in this environment that I've been stewing in the past couple of months. I am afraid that you might not like me, that I might be...different. Maybe more eccentric and truthful than usual (I think the "Letter to friends visiting me" post beneath Paris for a Year Basics contests to that), and my friends know how eccentric I can be. And there's really nothing you'd be able to do, you'd have to stick it out with me in my city until I take you back to De Gaulle, and you board that plane home. See, it would be different if we just saw each other the minute I came home from being abroad. At least I'd be back home, real home, and things would be back to normal. You wouldn't have to come home with me and share my living space. At least you'd get used to me after a while. You coming here is just going to be a shock to your system, and I know, I just know, that you're going to be contemplating on the plane home what exactly happened to me while I was here. You'll look at some pictures that we took in front of the Eiffel Tower together, and you're going to think, "What happened to Elaine?"

So this is my problem when friends arrive. Just friends. I have another issue when it comes to getting to see my family. This was only made apparent last weekend when I went to London.

Even though I know I've changed here and made some changes in my life that would not have happened back in the States, I still feel like...the kid. This can be good, like the "kid at heart" sort of thing, but then there's the "she's a kid, she has no idea how much she needs to grow up" blah blah. Felt this slightly when I visited my fam in London. Although they showed no grand gestures to suggest this, I'm confident in my people reading skills, especially with what's subtle and underneath, and I read from them that maybe they were expecting a cooler version of me to greet them at the train station. As if I wasn't cool enough wearing my first pair of boots and a pashmina that's been wrapped around my neck like a pro. I mean, I felt pretty cool, like I was traveling with style. Lesson number one: If you're feeling cool, you probably aren't. Or you're probably trying too hard.

Anyway, it was as if they were expecting the high school senior version of me and not the freshman version of me, although that wasn't much of an upgrade. And it is true, I need to grow up because I have no freaking clue what I'm going to do with my life after college except move back to LA and take it from there. They asked me what I was going to do after school, and all I could say was go back to LA. Maybe they were expecting something more. So maybe they're just worried about me and my slight lack of direction, but so is everyone else in my family.

See, I have this "plan", more like one of those tests you find in teen magazines where you answer one question and the answer leads you to one place or another, and where you end up depends on your answer. That's me except I don't know what the questions are yet or where the answers lead to. Some people have it easy and have one question to answer and that's their life, but I just foresee a whole mess of questions.

Bottom line and what I'm trying to get at here is this: I'm scared about what you're going to think of me. Whether you're family or friend. It took years for me to accept who I am and to not care what others thought of me. A couple months in Paris and I'm back to where I started, awkward high school freshman just wanting to be accepted.