Back when I was working in HR proper, I spent a significant amount of time working with managers on employee discipline. Large insurance companies tend to go overboard with rules and stipulations and conduct was no exception. I didn't mind the write-ups - most were for clear-cut infractions or sometimes, unique situations where I had to become somewhat of a wordsmith. And of course, at times there were employee separations. Corporate poilcy dictitated that a third party needed to be present for that meeting between manager and employee. Occasionally, it would be the manger's manager but the vast majority of time it was HR.
My role was really to just serve as an independent (I mean, not really, but hopefully impartial) representative and to make sure things didn't get out of hand. I think there was a sense that if a third party was there, everyone would be on their best behavior. This wasn't always the case, but that's for another time. I still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach leading up to the door closing and the meeting starting. Almost all of the employees recognized what was happening as soon as they saw me. But I had this impending fight-or-flight response along with a strong desire to urinate every time. Even when I knew they would go well. Even the ones that were over in 15 seconds. It was a feeling of anxiousness that something unexpected was going to happen and I'd have to be the one to take the lead. I was younger (and usually less-tenured) than nearly every manager I worked with, but they would so often defer to me if things didn't go according to plan.
So, when I got the chance to unexpectedly meet hexkitten
in person for the first time after knowing her for 13 years on-line, I was a little shocked to find that same feeling arise when she pulled up to my house. Here's someone who's known me at my best and worst and most places in between. Who's made clear efforts to stay in touch over the years, through changes to both of our personal lives. Who can make me laugh and also avoid going into my basement without every light in the house on and a baseball bat in hand.
And I was afraid. Afraid that I'd somehow fuck it all up. She'd realize that I'm not who I seem to be in real life. Without the benefit of time delays between messages, I wasn't witty. Or smart. Or kind. Or anything, really.
That all evaporated within five seconds of opening my front door.
I can honestly say it's the nicest time I've had in a very, very long time. We went out for breakfast at the coffee shop I usually take Nate to for gelato. Conversation was easy and engaging. She was a little bundle of feisty energy, just like I've always known her to be. She was also incredibly polite to the waitstaff, which is the surest sign to me of someone else being a good person. Not that I had any doubts. She's top shelf.
And above all, she was easy to just be with. It's hard for me to be comfortable around most people unless I know them very well. I fall into the trap of believing all the things my brain is trying to tell me. But this time, I didn't have to shush away those thoughts. We could just talk and laugh and I didn't have to pick apart every word or assign doubts to things that weren't there.
Friendships come in all shapes and sizes. For the longest time, having an online friend seemed to be the eptiome of strangeness. It was for creepy loners and those who weren't mature enough to have 'real' friends. What utter bullshit.
My dream is to win vast fortunes of riches and then create a utopian society where all the people I love the most get to live together (but each in their own dwelling). hexkitten
gets the spooky mansion at the end of the street where all the little kids only retrieve their baseballs from her yard on a dare, while desperately hoping to avoid seeing that clown wig silhouetted against the window.