When I met Agnes, it was my first day of law school. In between classes, I sat out in the school court yard alone. I was trying my hardest to look nonchalant, like I didn't give a fuck that I was sitting alone when I saw Agnes out of the corner of my eye.
It was August in San Antonio, Texas.
Which meant that it was fucking hot.
Agnes was wearing a fur trimmed blue jean jacket and glasses with transition lenses.
Her jeans flared at the bottom and reminded me of that year in middle school where I exclusively wore bell bottoms.
She sat alone at the table nearest me. Her back was to me but I noticed she kept looking at me over her shoulder, out of the corner of her eye.
I felt in my core that I did not want to be friends with Agnes but didn't say anything when I saw her turn towards me. I didn't discourage her or get out of my seat when she sat at my table.
For a time after that first afternoon, it seemed like I could not shake Agnes, she sat next to me in all my classes, she made plans with me that I did not try to get out of.
& one day, to her detriment, we played a game.
I so rarely tell people that I am good at reading strangers.
It's not like a psychic sort of thing, it's that most of us feel the need to tell others about ourselves; it's our hair, clothes, shoes. It's so simple what you can know from someone just by giving them a good look-over.
When I was small, my dad would take me out to play.
We'd sit on park benches and my dad would ask me, "What do think that woman over there is like?"
I didn't realize until much later that my dad was teaching me how to profile.
This, to my dad, is among one of the most important skills a person can have.
Somewhere in a completely ordinary conversation, I casually mentioned my special skill.
I did not mention that I was professionally trained by an officer in the military.
Agnes asked me to profile her.
& so, I did.
Agnes felt angry that many of the things I'd said were true. She did not want to be placed into a box, did not like feeling defined.
This moment put a long-standing strain on our relationship.
From that point on, Agnes avoided me and more than that, would often look for negative things to tell me about myself.
Despite the fact that I had not wanted to be Agnes' friend, no one likes to hear mean things about them self.
Shortly after I got my medusa tattoo, Agnes stopped to ask me what it meant to me.
& I told her about how I felt I was haunted by other people's mis-perceptions for much of my life.
Agnes told me that she imagined my life differently. She thought I'd lived an easy life as a popular girl, maybe even a rich popular girl. She told me that part of the reason why she was so hurt by the things I'd said to her two years earlier was because they came from who she thought I was; she felt like she was being bullied.
Agnes apologized for mis-characterizing me.
To say that our relationship has changed since then is an understatement.
Agnes became warmer towards me, & one day, I realized Agnes & I had many of the same interests.
I spent most of today with Agnes & enjoyed myself more than I have with so many other people.
Very recently, a significant friendship I had with someone crumbled.
When I met this friend, I was drawn to them because I believed we were similar kinds of people.
I put this together based on things I observed about them during class.
& one day, after several bitter arguments, I realized that the things I believed we had in common were superficial and that, even those were failing.
We have next to nothing in common.
& so, I'd like to believe that I am on my way to becoming a complete person because I've realized this:
no amount of profiling can tell you what kind of friend someone will be.
A fur trimmed collar on a blue jean jacket doesn't tell you how someone will sit next to you in a movie theater and hold your hand during a scary movie.
Transition lenses can't tell you that someone will laugh at all of your jokes.
Bell bottom blue jeans can't communicate to you that the person wearing them is someone you can trade books with.
There is nothing about the way someone looks that can tell you about the friendship you're going to miss if you discount them.
Agnes was wrong about me.
I was wrong about wanting to be her friend.
& we're both asses for assuming we could possibly know anything about each other without taking the time to ask questions and listen.