Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How Superman Saved Me

Like Kevin Costner, I never aspired to be Superman. My mother made me a cape and bought me a Superman knit cap, but I knew I couldn't fly. I knew I wasn't particularly strong or fast. Much later, though, in college, I did identify with Superman. I liked a girl who wasn't the same race or religion, who didn't grow up where I did. I liked her so strongly I believed none of our differences would matter—if she liked me as strongly.

Meeting her in second semester, junior year on the lit magazine staff, I immediately felt a time crunch to get to know her, to see if our friendship could overcome our differences before we graduated and went who-knows-where.

(At the same time, ABC was airing Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with non-nerdy, part-Asian Dean Cain in the lead.)

I finally, stammeringly asked her to lunch, and she replied she considered me a good friend, but didn't like me "in the that way".

I tried to smooth things over, said I understood. Part of me wanted to quit the magazine so I wouldn't see so much of her, but that seemed selfish. I got along with the rest of the staff, and from my relatively low position, I was often a voice of reason, keeping us united in purpose. It would be hypocritical if my own hangups caused me to walk away.

Committing to the magazine didn't help bury my feelings. There were many times they flared to the surface that I regret. How much worse would it have been had I not tried to emulate Superman's restraint, his commitment to seeing the good in people who might hurt him in the moment? Thanks to that, we remain friends. She's happily married to a good guy. I have peace of mind and look forward to meeting someone I like, who likes me in that way.

No comments: