During our interaction, I felt there was always a white elephant in the room - a monster of a thing - that demanded attention that neither of us could bother to give it, though we were ever aware of its presence.
From the way our social interactions stuttered, to the way that I could never quite stop fidgeting. I consider myself an individual with high energy, but never to the point of fidgeting - a sort of anxious hand wringing, nervous laughter at nothing in particular. But I wasn't alone in it.
From a purely objective standpoint, despite the stumbling nature of our conversation, it was nice to see where my other half came from. Living with my mother my entire life, I knew we were similar in personality- both of us bubbly individuals with a similar sense of humor - and I knew from her viewpoint what I got from him - some of his expressions and mannerisms, according to her - though I was never able to really view that myself.
Because he was this absent individual, I wanted nothing to do with anything that came from him, but with that childish conviction set aside I was able to see it.
I still didn't like it.
Thomas lived in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in a seeming perpetual state of youthfulness that could only come from one with a college education who never advanced past that point. He never graduated. He never had any further schooling. Never changed his major to have any higher schooling. He stayed rooted to one spot like a portrait in time. From the looks of the picture in his room I didn't change in his eyes either.
We went to pick up food from Publix, and even in the line he made a comment about me to the cashier about me being his 'little girl'. The cashier's raised brow masked exactly how I felt on the inside, combined with my own feelings of revolt.
Still, it was nice to talk to him because where my parents are more conservative leaning, he was as liberal as me. Talking about my viewpoints without any rebuttal is a nice feeling. To be understood, even if on a semi-superficial level.
But there was also something boring about talking to him. He was great for my ego, and I think everyone needs that to some degree. However, everything came with that drawling 'wow' and how 'pretty' and 'smart' I was.
But to him, that's all I was - some kind of doll that he crafted a frame for, then took the credit when the artist swooped in to breathe life. The artist that would swoop in to quickly say, "What about the life brimming over in her eyes? What about her hands that work toward her dreams? What about the the perfect scars that shows that she has lived?"
And sitting there, listening to my ego being stroked made me long for home.