Dear new friend(s),
I am writing this warning label because I think I should have ages ago. At least, I should have in college; maybe then my entire freshman block and 65% of the entire batch wouldn’t have ended up hating me (no lie).
So here goes.
New friend(s), I am…a strange animal. I mean, I know I’m a cat, but sometimes I also act like the abandoned street puppy that follows you home. I will slobber on you. I will howl at inappropriate hours. I will jump up on you and demand we play fetch. Sometimes, I bite (well, I guess that’s when my cat side shows up.).
I realize that this exuberance can be too much, and trust me when I say in hindsight I get very embarrassed by it. I try to control myself, I do, but most of the time I can’t help it. I am so happy to see you. I am so happy to know you because, before you, I hadn’t really “belonged” anywhere before. I was a misfit in gradeschool. A desperate and sad little loner in highschool (I remember leaving a class outing in tears because someone told me to go away as I’d just be ‘OP’ in the discussion). And, well, I mentioned above what college was like.
I have longed to belong so much that sometimes my excitement at someone being nice to me can be…too much.
I’m older now. More distant. A little colder. I’ve learned not to trust first impressions, initial appearances of “acceptance.” I have been left behind by too many, that my first instinct has become coldness. I might have been an introvert all my life (though having misguidedly pretended to be extroverted during the first 3/4ths of it), but my antisocial nature has been conditioned: I am scared that people will get upset, frustrated with me, and leave, so I wall myself away from anyone new. But if you manage to break through, do not fear the initial heat and warmth. That has only been held in, held back all this time, and it rushes out like heat from an oven door. Eventually the temperature normalizes, the room returns to homeostasis.
So will our friendship, if you stick around, eventually find its normal.
Until then, though, please bear with me if I’m excited to see you. If my voice is too loud and I constantly try to catch your attention. If I look a little in love with you, but in the most platonic way. It’s because I am. I’m in love with the feeling of being treated like I’m worth liking. I’m in love with the security of knowing that, to you, I belong.
Finally, thank you so much for taking a chance on me. As I’ve said to every employer I’ve interviewed for: I don’t promise to be easy, but I promise to be worth it.
Your friend and cactus,
A roaming Tsinay.