Suppose we met at a party. Before we even spoke to each other, you could make some fair assumptions about me, for instance, that I lived in the city where we met and that we had at least one mutual acquaintance in common. You’d make a guess as to my age on the basis of my face, my hair, my build. Seeing my expression and my interactions, you might reach a conclusion about whether I was friendly or reserved. You’d see my clothes, and jewelry if any, and maybe make deductions about my interests, my attitudes, perhaps even my political leanings if you were very clever.
And with those basics already established, we might start a conversation and look for connections or at least some common ground. How do you know So-and-so? Oh, I’ve always been interested in that. So what do you do for a living? Do you know X? Whereabouts do you live? Ah, I like that part of town. Have you been there long? Where did you study? Oh, what was that like? — did you enjoy it there? Married? Kids? And in a straightforward way you’d build up an concept of what I’m like as a person, and if you were very observant, you might get a sense of possible shared acquaintances, what other events you might run into me at, what kind of food I might like, how I’d treat the wait staff, whether and how I might vote.
But you don’t know me like that. We haven’t met like that.
I’ve revealed what I usually hide, but in monologue form — you get only what I offer up. And the first thing I offered you was a reflection on my sexuality and how it came to be the way it is. Straight to the core. In real life, only my partner knows any of that. I’ve shared intimate details about my sex life — not that they’re so raunchy in the grand scheme of things, but it’s not something I’d tell you over canapés, coffee, or even over a red Solo cup full of tepid rum and coke.
I’ve hidden what I usually reveal, keeping certain information and images from you, partly for anonymity and partly because those ordinary things are, well, a bit boring. I suppose that because they’re easy to share in real life, I’m not driven to share them here. This is my space for thinking out loud and I’m enjoying thinking thoughts that are new to me, not just the same old same old.
So we’re meeting here at the frontier of my journey of self-discovery.
You’re meeting me inside out. I wonder — do you know me better than if we’d met in the ordinary way, or just differently?
Gawan met me inside out too. He knew I was clever before he knew I was slim. He saw my bare breasts before he saw my face. I told him how I felt towards giving and receiving oral sex before I told him my real name. And as for my clothes, grooming and how I treat the wait staff, those tidbits of first-date-type information were unavailable to him until very recently, after he had embarked upon his odyssey to meet me.
How much information I get from eye contact and body language. How much I can learn from what captures or fails to capture his attention, and his interest. How inverted this process has been.