I went "home" for the weekend over Memorial Day, and thus had a couple of very long drives to fill. I don't know what normal people do during long drives -- but I always turn on the music and just let my mind wander.
Sometimes this is awesome. Sometimes this is dangerous. Your mind can go in strange places with nothing else to occupy it! This time, my mind wandered to something that happened a few years ago.
I'd been at a party of sorts, and a friend that I hadn't seen in awhile invited me to join his group at their table. I was quite a lot hesitant as I wasn't on great terms with everyone there -- but after a little prodding, I finally relented and agreed to come.
It wasn't awful... I met a few people. I caught up a very little with my friend. Conversations split up around the table, as they do... one of the people there spoke to me and said, "Look... I don't mean to be rude, but..."
An aside in retrospect, anyone who opens a conversation with that statement is about to be.
".... we'd like to be alone -- could you leave?"
I swear that's true. If you told me this story today, I'd ask you if you were sure it happened a few years ago and not... in high school.
I don't really know what you're supposed to do in that situation. I hadn't butted in, I'd been invited. In the end, I just felt incredibly embarrassed -- and angry. Though I've never really known if I was angry at the person who said it because it was rude and hurtful... or if I was angry with myself for being embarrassed.
I went home.
I've thought of that night from time to time, but always stopped at the embarrassment. But, as I turned it over in my head the other day, I realized something I'd never really thought about before.
I'd been embarrassed.. .and I'd been hurt... but I think I also felt relieved. I'd enjoyed catching up with my friend and meeting some new people -- but I'd also felt terribly uncomfortable in such close quarters with the people I wasn't okay with at the time. And while it was embarrassing, it was almost relieving to have an "out" and to not have to suffer through it.
Sometimes time and distance give you a little perspective.