Both of Me: The Art of Being Shy

I grew up in Camelot.  I was lucky to live there long enough to discover rock n roll with the same kids who threw sand at me in kindergarten.  I could see both grammar school and high school from my front steps and walk to the beach where sun, sand and surf made up a little piece of heaven.  It was a cloistered world of white gloves and hats where crime would never think to go. The milk man let himself in and donuts and bread rolled up to the curb in a yellow truck wafting sweet aromas. There is a part of me that still lives there, unable to let go and move away. But move away I did, with the ire of a protesting convict banished from the city for being too happy by parents succumbing to the lure of bigger and better.

Attending three high schools was a challenge for a pathological introvert. My mother forced me into “charm school” to draw me out of my shell (which is why I’m so darn charming now I suppose) and then into a mini career in modeling.  I loved the runway because I could leave myself backstage and enjoy an anonymous persona in the limelight.

Later I got a clerical job and moved into an apartment with my best friend.  Before long we were both married with children and going our separate ways.  She headed north for Silicon Valley and I went south to Orange County, a hotbed of Republican conservatism, where I tumbled through the looking glass into local and national politics.  It was both macabre and magical.  I was painfully shy and mingling with the beautiful people and the movers and shakers was somewhat this side of a blessing.

Being an introvert of this magnitude is physically painful. Muscles tense and everything hurts. Sometimes it’s hard to move like it was the first time I found myself in a room full of celebrities and a president and embarrassed myself by having all the animation of an ice sculpture. I’m sure I made a wonderful impression, dressed to the nines standing there feeling like I’d melt if I had to make social small talk with someone I didn’t know except as a myriad of characters on the big screen. I don’t do small talk. Not even at neighborhood functions. Like pumping my own gasoline, it’s a skill I never wanted to perfect.

I like people, I do. There’s even a part of me that would like to do some public speaking. Not the part of me that feels like she will throw up on her shoes if she is in a group larger than three – the other part.