On fear and inaction, and the consequences of giving in to them
In my last column, I wrote about my fear and ignorance. This time I want to write more about the inaction caused by fear.
First, I want to say that my wife Diane is the love of my life and I couldn’t imagine being in the here and now without her. She has also heard this story before and was only slightly involved at the end. This is a story about one moment of inaction that was caused by fear. This is also a story that took place 40 years ago, so my memory — “she not so good”.
Tanya was a girl I first meet when I was in 6th grade. I had just moved to Michigan and was starting at a new school. I’m not sure if I even talked to her that year but we were in the same class and I noticed her. The next year we started Jr. High and in my homeroom class, she sat at the desk right in front of me. She always wore a crisp white shirt and I remember being mesmerized by the outline of her bra strap that was just an arm’s length away from me. Once again, that was the extent of our interaction in 7th grade.
The following year, I started 8th grade at a new private school and Tanya stayed at the public school, so there was nothing between us. Then in 9th grade, she transferred to my school and we became friends. We lived in the same neighborhood, so we got into this routine of walking to and from school together. It took us about 20 minutes to make the walk and we would talk. She was smart, witty, and funny — oh, and did I mention she was also beautiful.
That’s how our relationship went for the next year or so. We spent a lot of time together but just as schoolmates and friends. Of course, I was a teenage boy, so I was thinking and feeling all sorts of things. I was infatuated with her (and a few other girls as well) but I was scared to say or act on those feelings. I guess my fear was of rejection and loosing that friendship. Now comes the moment of inaction that I can still see and remember clear as day.
Our relationship had started to develop just a little bit of physical contact. We would hold hands or hug goodbye, things like that. So on this spring day, Tanya was getting ready to leave on a weeklong school camping trip. We were standing outside the bus that was full of kids and I was giving her a big hug. Our faces were inches from each other and I wanted to kiss her so bad, but I didn’t. I was afraid, so I didn’t kiss her and she got on the bus and left. I regretted my inaction instantly and spent the next week beating myself up and thinking how I would do things differently when she got back.
Now here’s where the story goes from bad to worse.
So like a puppy dog, I’m waiting for Tanya and the bus to arrive. They get back and the last ones to get off the bus are Tanya and Steve, and to my horror they’re holding hands. They are now a couple… oh just kill me now. I primed her up, put her on a bus, and sent her into the woods with an older boy. No wonder I’m still kicking myself to this day.
But that’s not quite the end of this story yet.
I never got into the relationship that I really wanted with Tanya but we remained friends. After graduation, she went off to college and I took to the school of hard knocks. About four years later, Diane and I were already dating, Tanya came home after graduating and wanted to get together to tell me about her life.
I had other ideas. I invited her to my apartment and tried to seduce her. She was trying to tell me about problems in her relationship with the guy she eventually married and I was trying to put the moves on her. I wasn’t being a friend, I was being a jerk. I thought that since I was now more experienced with women and had less fear, I could relive that lost moment. But the reality is you can’t and if you try you only make it worse. I lost a friend and in hindsight, some self-respect and for that I’m not afraid to say I’m sorry.
(For archives of Edmund’s columns, visit www.whatsthepoint-edmund.blogspot.com)