Sassy Yet Shy

I wonder, as every immature and insecure person must, what other people think of me and how much this differs from what I think of myself. I hadn't thought about that sort of thing for years, but my teenage self has been on my mind all week because a former classmate wrote to ask me to visit his house, serendipitously right around the time I found a letter I wrote several years ago as an exercise in a writing workshop or some other wanna-be self-help situation.

The letter, which was meant to be written to oneself 10 years before, would have been addressed to myself as a senior in high school. I wrote:

You can do anything you want to do but everything takes practice. Start today. Know that you won't be good at it today but if you stick with it you will be great in 10 years.

Ten years isn't that long.

Don't start smoking

Don't take yourself so seriously and don't confuse being honest with being rude.

Don't worry about how it will all turn out. It just will.

This advice seems so wise, wiser than I remember myself being at 28. But it also seems to speak to my major flaws now, so I assume those are the very flaws I must have had as a twenty something and as a teenager. I still won't do anything that I am not good at from the get-go. I am not really interested in practicing golf, ballet, tennis, piano, kayaking, running, etc. until I am good, which is why, of course, I have never really perfected much of anything. I still have trouble recognizing the line between being truthful and being painfully blunt and I still worry about how it will all turn out.

That is the self I know. I would also add that I feel shy a lot and unsure about what to say in many situations, which is how I know the self I perceive must be quite different from the person the world sees; I have mentioned to a few people that I am shy and they have all laughed. Evidently the one thing I don't appear to be, at least now, is shy.

When I was in high school, I am certain that I was shy. I wonder how I appeared to my classmates. I remember feeling fairly warm towards everyone and a little shy about saying so. People have said to me that they thought I was a snob. It seems so crazy to me that anyone would think I was anything remotely like an elitist - a dork, perhaps, misguided and uncomfortable, definitely, but not a snob.

When my classmate, Mark Lewis, called me, I was excited to see him and his house. At Henry Clay we smoked together huddled outside the door after lunch (I, the preppy smoker - Merits and he, the punk rock smoker - Marlboro, I think) so I got to know him as well as you can know a person by meeting in five minute increments.

I guess because everyone is so awkward in high school I wasn't expecting Mark or his house to be so polished. Plus, he usually had pink or green hair back then and, I think (I may be confusing him with a character from a Molly Ringwald movie), a studded dog collar.

He is more handsome and refined now than he was then (which is all any of us can hope). His house, too, is handsome and terribly refined. Until I saw his house I didn't realize Mark was such a perfectionist. While no one really wants to BE a perfectionist, everyone should aim to buy a house owned by one. From the front door to the basement, the house is flawless. The charming Tudor house exudes a spit-spot charm with its crisp trim and well-groomed landscaping. Inside, the large eat-in kitchen provides plenty of room and equipment for gourmet meal preparations.

I see at least one hundred houses a year and I have never seen an unfinished basement as nice as Mark's. Carpeted stairs lead past wainscoting and faux-frescoed walls. ("I'm the kind of person who drinks a couple of bottles of wine and decides to faux finish walls," says Mark.) The walls and floor have been sealed and painted, the wine cellar has marble floors, and there isn't a speck of dirt or dust anywhere.

I wish when I was at Mark's house that I had told him what a lovely person I think he is - interesting, handsome and quite stylish, but I didn't. Perhaps because I am too shy. But quite possibly because grown-ups don't talk about what we think of each other.

My friend Betty and her fiancé came very close to parting ways because he read her journal while she was out. She wrote a line or two about his irritating penchant for wearing all black. In the end they both decided that if it was something she WANTED him to know she would have told him and that he deserved whatever he got for violating her privacy. It might be best that other people don't know exactly what we think of them. Most of the time, for me, that would be "confusing being honest with being rude."

I did, however, tell Mark that I thought his house was interesting, beautiful and stylish. If our houses are outward manifestations of our selves then I think we can take comments about our houses to be comments about our selves. I wonder what my friends mean when they say, "it seems so un-finished" but definitely not shy.


1950 Georgetown Rd.


2477 Square feet

3 bedrooms (1 on first floor)

2 baths

Contact Myra Downling 269-3444

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.