It could have been anything.
Any arrangement of words said or sent
could have done it.
It wasn’t the word “unabashed”
though in a later conversation,
it gave me pause —
How many things have I been abashed about?
What would make my top-ten abashed moments list?
Too many, and those that jump to the fore:
Crying during a routine gynecological exam.
Throwing up Korean barbecue at a bus stop.
Asking a non-pregnant person when the baby was due.
Walking in on my then-boyfriend with his hand up another girl’s shirt.
Exiting the house naked at a party with the expectation of skinny-dipping, and seeing everyone else in swimsuits. And them seeing me.
Wearing the wrong colors to a playoff game. Very wrong colors.
Thinking I was much better at sex than I was, and told so. In the midst.
Choking so hard on an oyster shot I sneezed cocktail sauce for a week.
Sending an obviously unwanted love letter.
Not sending an obviously wanted love letter.
In each of these,
I entered unabashed.
The way the heart opens a bid to the world
is not foolish;
it is the world’s counter-offer
that sucks it into the mire of context,
of taboo, of arbitrariness.
We can accept this counter-offer.
We can also smile with unfolding hands,
push away from the table,
and walk out singing.
— Halsted M. Bernard