[Have come to the conclusion that I need to walk the walk a bit and start revealing more of myself – which means telling the stories that I, whether rationally or not, don’t really like talking about.  Here goes…]

I should preface this by saying that there were a few things that ‘started by the Poole’ and this is just one of them, but it’s the one on my mind right now so it’s the one getting told.

‘Poole’ refers to a church singles event that happened back in the summer over a weekend in..well….Poole.

At Poole, I met a girl (I met a few, but I’m only telling one story here, remember?) – Codename: Grace.  Ironically, the first time I saw her on the Friday evening I didn’t even really notice her, but rather her friend.  Grace didn’t really register at the time.  It wasn’t until the following afternoon when activities had migrated to the beach, that I finally took notice.  I have to say, I wasn’t impressed.  Her and her friends quickly appeared to isolate themselves from everyone else, and I came to the conclusion that this was the ‘fit & don’t-we-know-it’ group.  The annoying kind because even though you know you’d be wasting your time with them, you end up attracted to them anyway and loathing yourself for it.  And so it was that I wanted to talk to Grace anyway, but simply not having the nerve to take on her AND her friends.

Fast-forward to the Sunday morning breakfast, as I looked for somewhere to sit with my Rice Krispies (they always take me back to my childhood!) I saw someone I knew, an empty chair next to her and in the next chair was Grace sitting by herself.  This was my chance, and for once I took it.  It was actually a very easy conversation, and during it I made a startling discovery.  She remarked that she’d come to Poole with the goal of meeting 10 new people, because she often struggles with it.  It was at this point that I learned…

Lesson #1: First impressions are unreliable!

What I’d taken as haughtiness was, in fact, shyness.

There was a bit of a hiccup with getting her number later in the day (and that’s a story I’m not yet ready to tell – it’s seriously pathetic!), but in the end, success was had and some time later a date was arranged.  From my perspective it was extremely stressful because I really didn’t have much of a plan, and what plan I did have was pretty rubbish (like going to a museum when it’s shut….genius, Fraggle!).  That said, it was enjoyable and we talked pretty much the whole time, I don’t remember there being any particularly awkward pauses – well, except for the point where she demanded to know why I didn’t think a particular feature on a building was breathtakingly beautiful (if it sounds like a strange moment, that’s because it was!).  For some reason I totally locked up at that point.  I felt like I really *should* have an answer for the question, but the truth was I didn’t.  It didn’t bother me one way or the other, but I’d managed to in that moment convince myself that that was somehow a character defect. Thus…

Lesson #2: Don’t take everything so darn personally!

I still wonder whether when we parted that night, she was hoping I would kiss her or something.  As it was, I’d decided beforehand that it was too early for anything like that, but I admit I felt a bit disappointed in myself afterwards that I didn’t simply consider the situation on it’s merits. (and no, I’m not entirely sure what I mean by that)

The last time I saw Grace was at another event a week or so later.  By this time though, my shyness had reasserted itself and I found myself unable to approach her even after we saw each other and said Hi.  We spoke very briefly a couple of times, but nothing substantial.

Lesson #3: Don’t think that there’s time for you to be shy.  You have no idea what’s coming…

At the end of the day before she left I gave her a gift that referenced the date and was utterly surprised when she then announced she was going to kiss me on the cheek!

Lesson #4: Sometimes awesome things happen.  Enjoy them while they last!

Little did I know that in this case it wouldn’t be lasting very long at all.  When I next spoke to her (with the intention of arranging another date), she informed me that she’d just started a relationship.  <Sigh>

The problem with real stories is that usually, the narrative is incomplete.  There are a fair number of questions outstanding for me (which are basically an attempt to see things from her perspective).  I have to accept that those questions will never be answered…

Lesson #5: You need a way to learn without feedback, because you can’t rely on it being available.

Poole itself was an interesting experience for me because I experienced myself in a way that I’m not used to – that weekend I became almost semi-confident and have found myself frustrated that I’ve been unable to capture that and bring some of whatever Pixie dust I ran that into back then with me into the normal world.  Yet another mystery to ponder…