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When Your Life is Consumed by Strangers

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It’s funny to hang out with a person who does not know you at all. Like, at all. Dates are continually surprised by my expressions. Nary a date goes by that I don’t exclaim Oh, Mylanta! as they tell a surprising story — and this ultimately turns into them being shocked at my peculiar phraseology.

Of course, more than my lexicon that has garnered questioning. There’s my over-apologetic nature (a friend once made me a mix CD entitled I’m Sorry for Being Sorry, which was a direct quote). My slight inability to do simple addition or subtraction without pictorially imagining the numerals in my head — or better yet, drawing them out in thin air with my index finger. And as EJ in Iowa noticed, a complete lack of desire to win at Scrabble.*

Day after day, I engage in conversation — and even mores, first dates — with absolute strangers. And while I can’t tell you what parts of their personalities I hone in on that they and their friends rarely think about, it’s bizarre to always be explaining myself to people. Bizarre, but also rather introspective. It’s got me understanding what it is like to meet me, what makes an impression on people, and what impression it is that I want to leave on a person I may never see again. And even beyond that, I question my own personality. Do I like being this way? Do I want to stop? Should I? Why or why not?

Despite not wanting to make this project about changing my life, it looks like that may be happening whether I wanted it to or not. Such is the nature of adventures.

*This isn’t entirely true. What actually occurred was I realized I was winning by an increasing margin, and began feeling bad about it. EJ, having figured out I didn’t love winning and did love apologizing, asked how I felt about this. I said I wanted to feel good, but mostly I knew that even if I won, the fleeting feeling would be overshadowed by knowing that in my winning, someone else had lost.

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