Periphery

2006 February 25
by barclay

Sometimes, I follow my advice. Sometimes, I forget what I said. Last night was an example. I was logged into the office from the coffee house, getting some work done for a massively important deal I’ve been busting my ass to meet requirements. I’m between emails, kind of zoned out, thinking about the periodic freezes we’re experiencing and trying to mentally enumerate a prioritized list of potential sources for the error, when I notice a cute girl looking at me as she walks to a table near mine. I smile, she smiles, and she sits facing in my general direction.

Something jolts in my head, and I decide to try a new angle on the problem. Ten, twenty, thirty minutes later a I get rule out my solution as a viable one. I’m zoned again, and I catch her smiling toward me, and I smile again, although make note that she’s leaning in close to the boy sitting next to her. Boyfriend, methinks.

I grab a glass of Cabernet to counter the coffee zipping through my glands and settle into work again. Another half hour slips by, and I can see I’m not going to resolve this tonight. Time to meet up with the boys and see what’s happening over at the lifeguard party. Packing up, I catch her looking at me again from behind these gentle curls of sandy bland hair, still leaning in close to the boy. She entices another genuine smile out of me. Well, even if she’s with a boy, it’s nice to be appreciated.

As I’m walking out the front door, she waves, and I instinctively wave, and think “what the fuck” as I plop in my car. Of course, once I pass the threshold to the on-ramp, I realize, once again, how much of a dolt I am. That wasn’t her boyfriend, that was her study partner, and they were sharing a book. Cue the Simpson-esqe “Doh!”

This obviously isn’t the first time this has happened to me, and it’s perhaps the caveat to my previous advice: don’t get so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you forget your environment. I’m not completely blind – I’m still aware of potential threats, objects, and allies, in the martial sense, and looking at whatever I’m doing from multiple angles, but I tend to to gloss over the benign, attractive, or otherwise interesting things that aren’t related to the task at hand. Perhaps evolutionarily, I have a practiced ability to to completely engross myself in all aspects of that’s either important or enjoyable, but I need to expand the awareness include that which may not be applicable to my focus. To be aware without compromising my attention, just in case I should change foci. This is where I require work.

Well, hopefully she studies there often.

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