|Who Do You Think You Are? - Page 14|
I thought about it for a week and decided I could risk this bold foray into the realm of hostessing. We invited a pal of my boyfriend's named Bob, a rumpled, loquacious soul who wouldn't have cared if I'd served cold eggs and said 10 words. The evening was a success, at least by Bob's standards, and I came away with a slightly altered view of myself. I had what it took to throw a dinner party. (Okay, to co-throw a very small dinner party. No matter: it was a kind of breakthrough.)
The other person who taught me something about living with my temperament—while again pushing against its limits—was the new boyfriend himself. Dan radiated a kind of playful, calm confidence that made me wonder, at first, whether I wanted to be with Dan or simply be him. On our first date, he took me skating, not on a regular pond, but on a vast stretch of gray, congealed paper waste that he'd discovered at the edges of Valley Forge Park. Had I been the one to come across such a pit, I'd have filed it under "disgusting" and never returned. But Dan had been intrigued by it. So, for a whole afternoon, we glided barefoot on a half-acre of paper waste, executing wobbly figure eights and spending considerable time afterward scrubbing the muck off our feet. The day was bizarre. It bore no resemblance to a date. I had a fabulous time.
A few months into our relationship, when I tentatively revealed to Dan that beneath my faade I was horrendously shy and unsure of myself, he replied, "I know. So what?" Then he launched into an impromptu dance that he dubbed the "Confidence Strut," instructing me to follow. As Dan led me around the room in this high-stepping, ridiculous ritual of self-regard, I glimpsed something that lay beyond a life of whipping myself into shape. For just a moment, with the tiniest tilt in perspective, I looked at the whole impossible project of self-renovation and did the only thing that made sense—laughed at it.
Again and again, Dan showed me that life was more fun than frightening, and at some point, I understood that I had a decision to make. If I threw my lot in with him, there'd be more dinner parties to throw, his huge, extended family to negotiate, all manner of oddball expeditions and spontaneous socializing to carry out. It felt exhausting, scary, like too much of everything. On the other side of the balance sheet, I was wildly in love. The scale tipped precipitously, and I jumped.