Naked in the Pain

The phrase ‘Naked in the Pain’ sounds like a song or a self-help book title, but I haven’t found any proof of that. I’m sure it’s one or both those thing, but it came to me after waking up one morning from a weird set of dreams (most of them being of the conversational sort, which is unusual for my dreams don’t often have conversational tones to them).

The meaning of this phrase didn’t hit me till today at work. In a rare instance of scheduling luck, Abbey and I worked together tonight, at least for a little while. We didn’t see much of one another and I didn’t expect to see much of her, as we were in opposite ends of the store, but we did end up seeing each other towards the end of her shift.

It was at the end of her shift where we ran into two Mormon missionaries, both of them Sisters. They had just come to our area and Abbey pulled me over there to meet them, jokingly telling them that I needed to be converted. The taller one offered her hand and I shook it.

And then Abbey and I began to roll off commentary on where we worked, the area, and it was wonderful. Our natural chemistry, the ease of which we just play off one another and have fun, came through loud and clear. The missionary girls were laughing their tails off, one of them commenting that Abbey and I should do our own standup show — we had great timing with one another.

This felt not only like a complete validation of my own thoughts (look, other Mormon’s AGREE WITH ME!) but also like twisting the knife. I got called away a few times as the two of us killed the better part of 35 minutes with those two missionaries, but I kept coming back, drunk on the opportunity to spend time with Abbey and to be funny.

After that, she went to clock out and I went back to work, only to take my lunch some 20 minutes later. And she was still in the store, shopping around. I grabbed some Starbucks on my lunch break (largely the reason I’m still up now — Starbucks after 8PM does no good for sleep) and, once I got it, she checked out.

She was wearing a Superman shirt (she had been wearing it under her work shirt), which was awesome because Superman is my favorite hero, but I stopped her to ask what her step-count was. She recently got a Fitbit Flex (which measure your steps/sleep activity/ect) and I recently got a Samsung GearFit (which does all that, plus heartrate, plus some smartwatch capabilities) as a grandprize winning.

She had a few hundred steps more than I did at that point, but we were both closing in on our 10,000 step goal (which, for some reason, is the goal to hit each day — I have no real clue why, I suppose I could Google it but that’s a minor point).

And we began talking again. Since it was my lunch break, I didn’t feel bad at all about it. I spent the entirety of that break standing up, talking to her, making her laugh and comparing notes on how our respective religions comes to decisions (and joking about them as well). I kept her there for another half-hour before my break ended and she had to leave.

And this is where ‘Naked in the Pain’ comes in. The phrase had meaning after that. I simultaneously felt as vulnerable as I could be, yet was thrilled to be that with her. I mean, we were good together tonight, like we are every time. It’s probably why she doesn’t want us to spend time outside of work because we’re too good with one another. I have an ability to just suck her into conversations, our chemistry and our timing flowing beautifully, and we lose track of all time.

It’s great and it sucks. It sucks so massively I get this so rarely now.

She is both a reminder of what I don’t have and what I want. Girls like her exist — she confirms this through her existence. I knew they did, logically, but I had no firsthand proof that they existed and would ever be interested in me. Yet, she does exist and was — and still is, to a point — interested.

I get how ‘Naked in the Pain’ feels. I’m not sure I’m describing it right because it’s not like I’m actually naked (that’s not something anyone would want to see) but emotionally? I’m open to all things. I could be crushed by her and I’d let her do it, because she gets that type of rare access. I can only think of a handful of other people (in the low single-digits) that have that type of access, and she does.

I know how my first OC, Hank Harrison, felt all those year with his crush/best friend/eventual wife. They spent nearly two decades dancing around one another until they both arrived in a place that they could be together. Hank spent years, off and on, regretting and wishing away things he had said or hadn’t said. He debated for years whether to say anything, eventually deciding not to until she ended up back in his life — and with her back, the feelings came back in full force.

I wonder if that’s my fate here. Is Abbey my Bethany? Hank’s life, fictional as it is, has served as a bit of a guidepost for me. Hank lost weight after he got out of the Academy (about 50 pounds) and I lost weight after I got of college. Hank had to find his place in Starfleet, eventually getting to a situation where he initially didn’t want to be, but he settled there and grew to love it. It was much the same way when I first went to Virginia — I did want to be there, admittedly, but I didn’t expect to love it or settle in it. It was just supposed to be a port in the storm, much like Hank’s assignment onto the Galloway. That ship was supposed to be a stepping stone to greater things (it eventually did turn out that way after nearly a decade of him being there) and Virginia, for me, was supposed to act as much the same.

Hank eventually left the Galloway to take command of a bigger ship, which ended up having dire consequences for him, his crew, and the universe, but it helped him accomplish the goal of being with Bethany.

Admittedly, I’m probably reading too much into this, but Abbey and I are fictional good together. We’re fanfic good. Yet, we’re not together in the least. It stupefies many in our work place (including the 15-year-old young buck that works with me, who was completely confused that she and I weren’t together. He called me a player and was like “rekindle the fire, man, rekindle that fire!”)

I’m not sure what the conclusion is between her and I; our lives seem to be taking us in different directions, especially since work is cutting my hours back even more beginning in February (I expected as much) and that’ll give me the time (and justification) to look for something else in Virginia.

But I get what ‘Naked in the Pain’ means. It means to be simultaneously vulnerable, thrilled, regretful, hopeful, and good with the pain. The pain can hurt or it can please or it can do nothing or it can make you feel nostalgic or make you feel something else.

Whatever the case, the King of Character Torture has gotten a dose of his own medicine and that’s just fine.

Thanks for reading, folks. God Bless.