If you were to look up the word uptight in the dictionary, front and center would be a photo of yours truly. And, in that picture, I’d be sitting in a perfectly proportioned square box.
Oh, how I love my box where everything is just how I like it. Nothing out of place, everything color coordinated in muted colors, elevator music playing in the background, putting on my comfy socks on a Friday night, right before sitting in my comfy chair pinning decorating trends on Pinterest.
And as uptight as I am, when someone tries to dismantle my little box, I don’t do very well.
So a while back, Brody came up with the idea that I should apply for a spot in a local organization that does quite a lot of good for the community. He had participated in it years before and wanted me to join. The organization, while a worthy one, required an overnight retreat of its members, where I would not know many of the other participants.
It also involved a bus ride, where it’s common knowledge, at the end of which you will be required to tell the entire class what you learned about your seatmate. It required a personality test, where your entire personality is dissected and discussed. It required countless interactions, games and discussions with those I barely knew. And it required my sharing a room with someone I had never laid eyes on.
For many years, for these reasons alone, I said, “No way.” That box sounded noisy, messy and way too close for comfort.
For one, when I’m on a bus or plane, I read. I don’t talk, and just in case you try to engage me, immediately upon sitting down, I put on my earbuds and hoodie – the international language for “leave me alone.” I don’t need a personality test to tell me all the ways I’m controlling and crazed. And I don’t play games because I can think of 101 things I can clean with the time it takes to play an entire game of monopoly or bunch. But the number one thing I dislike more than anything, in this entire world, would be sharing a room – my box – with a complete stranger.
For some reason I won’t ever be able to fully explain, in a very weak moment I finally agreed to attend. So a few weeks ago, I did all sorts of things I never thought possible from my little box.
I made a new friend on a bus. It was slightly painful at first, mostly for her, because she seemed to be one of these people who can talk to anyone.
I completed a personality test – that at the end of the day – found me to be judicious and competitive, which are nice words for controlled and crazy.
And I played games, which weren’t so bad except I missed every ball that was thrown at me, which tends to happen when your hands are crossed in front of you.
But most importantly, I shared a room with a complete stranger, and she didn’t kill me in my sleep nor did she steal from me.
My stranger roommate was very nice. A former model and diamond broker who now works for a local nonprofit, she kept her side of the room neat and tidy. She let me shower first and actually went to bed before I did. As potential psychotic roommates go, she was a good one, although the diamond broker M.O. had me worried there for a minute.
When I returned from the retreat, I was met by both Brody and Becky, who seemed so very proud of me for stepping out of my box. So much so, I found it quite annoying.
“I’m not completely anti-social,” I told them both. “I talk to people every single day of my life, and lots of people like me.”
“Sure they do,” both said in unison while trying not to laugh.
But I must say, that evening, upon returning home, there was nothing I wanted to do more than put on my comfy socks, sit in my comfy chair and read about the virtues of properly aligning frames on a gallery wall.
While that other box wasn’t as bad as expected, there is simply no place like home...especially when it’s a perfectly proportioned square box.
Comments? You can email Angel Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Becky Andrews and Kane are the brains behind Telling Tales, a weekly column in The Democrat.