I have a writer’s eye for characters. I can see their depths, their flaws, and their motivations. I can find the bigger picture and the good intentions with ease. I analyze all the TV shows and movies I watch because it’s fun and I can, but to some extent I’ve started to realize that I treat my personal life the same way.
Sometimes I feel like every person I meet is a blank slate for me to fill in and the more I get to know someone the more I pick them apart trying to understand where their story will go. But people aren’t as well rounded in real life. Their lives don’t end wrapped up with a bow at the end of 300 pages or a few television seasons; they go on to wreak havoc and confuse me for much longer.
Recently I’ve been thinking about this one scene from Hart of Dixie. The guy Zoe thinks she’s in love with is about to marry someone else, so to get him off her mind she calls Wade, her playboy neighbor who also happens to secretly have feelings for Zoe. It’s kind of a pivotal finale moment after a season of build up, but it’s not so much the fact that Zoe and Wade are finally hooking up or even the amazing song playing in the background that gets to me. Rather its the look of pure happiness on Wade’s face when they kiss. The fact that he’s so excited and happy to be with Zoe, even if she doesn’t yet understand why or return his feelings, absolutely guts me. It’s the kind of emotional moment that turns me into a shameless giggling fangirl. Wade is kind of a screw up character and he has some unbearably stupid moments, but I’ve been cheering for him since the pilot episode. Because if there’s one lie Wade Kinsella can’t sell its the one about his lack of feelings for Dr. Zoe Hart.
I know people aren’t like the characters in my books or in my favorite TV shows. Believe me when I say I’ve been let down enough to understand that. But I can’t stop myself from searching for that kind of moment, that one-second look that stops your heart and makes you sure of everything. Because I deserve to have someone look at me that way and I deserve to be happy.
I just wish that I didn’t keep digging into the what ifs of every person I meet, too. Because even when I try not to, I still have the writer’s perspective. I still see the character traits and motivations behind every word or gesture. And sometimes I worry that I’ll never be able to turn it off long enough to trust that maybe a person is, after all, just a person.
Everyone has a story, a history that makes them who they are. But I shouldn’t be picking them apart hunting for puzzle pieces just because I can or because it’s fun. I need to be ok with getting to know someone in their own time and accept the possibility of pure intentions. Not everyone is a villain or even a hero, but they could be a Wade Kinsella if I gave them half a chance to try.