Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lonely ... Shy ... or what?

“I have not played a game on a regulation-sized board in over 35 years. And besides, I’m shy.”

“You’re overstating the importance of the size of the board, and you are not shy,” Benjamin replied. “I don’t believe it for a minute.”

“I am; I just manage it very well,” I insisted. “Read the blog how we met.”

“You can strike up a conversation with almost anyone,” he continued, as if I had said nothing; “I’ve seen you do it.”

We got into this conversation because we were talking about going to a meeting of our local Go club. Although each of us had occasionally played against a digital opponent, and he had occasionally played the digital opponent on a regulation-sized board, we had been playing Go against only each other and for only a little less than a year. ( See my post or Benjamin's for posts on the background of, and our interest in, this ancient yet timeless game. ) And we always played, for the sake of both time and complexity, on a 13 line board, whereas the official game is played on a 19 line board. That doesn’t, perhaps, sound like much difference; but it is huge.

Failing to be familiar ( not to mention failing to be proficient ) with playing on a 19 line board brought me some anxiey; my being shy was a second barrier to attending a meeting of the club. Realizing I was getting nowhere in this conversation ( and realizing that could mean either I was not really shy or I managed it too well for my own good ), I promised to share on our blog a story I wrote in our last writing class. I responded to the prompt: “Write two short pieces, each responding to a different one of these three words: anger, happiness, loneliness.”

Creatively ( not ), I call it, “Loneliness.”

“Fire” ( drill ) … “Fire” ( drill ) … the management team screams.

We all leave our workstations and calmly find the nearest exit, moving mostly as one down the staircase and outside to escape the pretend fire. It is late spring, the sun shines, there is a breeze. Being outdoors is pleasant.

Suddenly strangers surround me. These are people whose names I know, whose friendly faces I recognize; people with whom I can talk endlessly about any and all details of our work. As they mill about in small groups and converse in an animated fashion, I realize that, absent shop-talk, they are either people that I have nothing in common with or people with whom I have no knowledge of a common life. 

Nobody beckons me to join the group s/he’s part of; I don’t have it in me to invite myself. I wait silently and anxiously for the “all clear” signal to return to our workstations.

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