I had dinner with an extrovert yesterday.
It started out with drinks, then dinner, then she gave me a ride home. At the beginning, I did what I always do when I'm in an introverted mood. I subtly let her don most of the talking, asking questions that begged for long answers, basking in the feeling of sitting there, munching on cheese and drinking wine and letting her words rush over me in great waves of feeling and enthusiasm.
I heard about our mutual friends, and her lover, and her job and her roommate and her big Puerto Rican family. Actually, I met several members of said big Puerto Rican family since her Uncle owned the restaurant. They would flounce up to the table and there would be hugging, cheek-kissing and an icy wave of Spanish that washed over me, leaving me confused but absolutely awake.
Happy families usually depress me, but this one did not.
She knew the menu intimately, so I let her order for me and ended up with an oddly but wonderfully smooth gazpacho, a dish of red snapper in a creamy, spicy sauce, and an unusual but wonderful take on the banana split for dessert with fried bananas and a piquant caramel sauce. (Suffice to say, the restaurant's cultural appropriation of this classically American dish into a Puerto Rican version was something I was totally in right relations with.)
Somewhere between the two mojtios and the glass of port, I warmed to the conversation and she started to ask me questions, questions that would have been somewhat intrusive in a lesser conversation over a lesser meal.
"How long have you and theCSO been together?"
"A little under eight years, though we broke up once overnight and once for a week."
"Why? I mean, if you don't mind me asking?"
Her eyes were curious about the human condition, or perhaps the workings of my head, but there was no malice or voyeurism there. I gave her a brief answer, not a sufficient one, but I'm fairly certain one cannot understand the workings of another's relationship anyway.
We talked more and the river of conversation flowed on and I felt myself beginning to feel better about the world. She asked me more and I answered her and I found myself opening up, laying out the difficulties of my life like cards on a table.
She listened and she asked and we talked and I asked and looked at each other with serious expressions full of concern as if by hearing one another's difficulties we were doing serious business, like little children carrying fire. I'm not a person who touches, but I found myself touching and talking and putting aside something of my WASPy reserve.
I thought of how when my grandmother was in the hospital and required 24-7 babysitting, I would stumble past the "intensive care" sign and passionately wish somebody would care for me intensively, pack me away in bed, bring me scrambled eggs and read to me from an intense novel.
A few people in my life have been able to care for one intensely. Fewer still have been able to keep it up past the first flush of knowing someone new.
So, anyway, Sarah-the-Extrovert is likely to appear on this blog again.