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A to Z 2013 : INITIATIVE: JUST ACT KIND

A to Z 2013 : INITIATIVE: JUST ACT KIND

Within I touch on the topics of Love, hate, Forgiveness, Spirituality and Kindness. They are discussed through my own personal experiences and beliefs I've shared throughout my brief lifetime. Hopefully the Initiative will inspire something in you!

I want to believe this is somewhat coherent. As I began writing it, I had way too many topics/thoughts/ideas barraging me at once. This was the third draft and I refuse to do a fourth. I feel this will get a handful of my thoughts out. I will revisit these topics once the A to Z Challenge concludes, and I have more time to focus.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

So this past week was another rough one. There were no sudden bursts of wanting to run into seclusion, but rather a chain of unfortunate events leading to loss. The two most prominent weren’t necessarily directly linked, but associated in the background.

One irreversible, another salvageable (or at least I tell myself); both healthy, in terms of allowing growth if handled correctly. If being honest, I can’t say if I will handle either in the best way, but I plan to try.


A Death in the Family

Last week my family buried my uncle at Fort Snelling. His passing was sudden, and just months after his father (mother’s side) passed. The cause is still being checked into, and I hear it could take weeks. I guess I watch one too many police procedural shows, because I thought it would be a matter of days, if that.

I wasn’t extremely close to either my uncle or grandfather. Both seemed to keep to their own lives, much as I do myself. They both would attend all our family functions, though. I can only attempt to imagine the pain my mother must be feeling. I feel like I fail in comforting her. It was even worse attempting to comfort my uncle’s daughters. I felt completely incompetent. I was unable to find any words, but I don’t believe there are always words for something like that. Sometimes words can’t express enough.

When I was first contacted, and still unaware of what had happened, I had multiple scenarios flash through my mind. I knew the news was bad, terrible even, and so I thought of my brothers. Mainly the youngest and the next oldest after myself. I guess I feel they would be the ones to find themselves in some sort of predicament.

Hearing my mother’s voice told me things were much more dire than anticipating. Instantly, I thought of a death in the family. This still secured these two brothers in my mind, but it shifted more to the next oldest. He is a stupid driver, and way out of reach now after having moved.

To fuel it, while my mother attempted to compose herself she said “Che...” and then had to take another moment. I then thought this meant that something had, indeed, befallen my brother. Finding out it was my uncle, I think she possibly thought, for a moment, she was on the phone with my brother; she had been attempting to contact him, along with the rest of the family.

So last week was the funeral. Once again, I was face to face with relatives I had just seen after my grandfather’s passing, but before that I hadn’t seen in years; some since being too young to even remember them. The same pleasantries were exchanged: the desire to stop meeting under such circumstances, and resolutions to become closer to one another. I believe the same was said at my grandfather’s funeral. It may be “standard issue” among many families in such an event.

I’d like it to be true, to come true. That these aren’t just pleasantries. I think people in general get too distracted with life and themselves that they don’t keep in touch with others. Whether friends, family, lovers; life happens. I’ve always been one of the belief that there’s always time. Even if just for a quick call. With the world being as connected as it is now, I have little room for excuses.

Sadly, I fall into the category of not specifically doing so with those I know. I don’t believe I make excuses, though. I understand that I have had multiple opportunities to do so, but haven’t. It isn’t hard really. Make a call, send an email, a text. I feel worse on my end, because I don’t have near as busy a life as many others I know. I have no excuses, and I try not to pretend I do.

For a brief moment, after the death of someone close, people seem to remember there are others connected to them.  A blip of connectedness. Their lives slow down, they have time to think and look around. That innate desire in everyone, in humans, to be close to one another kicks in.

In their heart of hearts, they want things to change. They want to be closer to those they have drifted away from. The hope of that is generally short lived. Soon life resumes and back into the vortex they are sucked.

So will this time be different? In most cases, there are a small percentage of individuals positively affected by such a traumatic event. Individuals that dedicate and convict to such changes they want to see happen in their life. It’s wonderful, yet a shame specific circumstances had to unfold to spark that change. It seems a path most of us are doomed to repeat over and over again.

I think, and hope, my cousins are among a few who will undergo this transformation. Both showed how strong they were in the wake of their father’s death. I was extremely proud of them. I learned the oldest (possible they both do?) has a beautiful voice that I hope she continues to use to express herself, whether through music or some other manner.

My heart and love goes out to them and to everyone affected by this tragedy.

On my end, I hope to let go of some guilt. Some associated with my grandfather, and some with my uncle. Pointless hangups. Perhaps I will finally make the change and be more in touch with others outside my immediate family.

If I don’t, I don’t really have an excuse.

COUNTDOWN

So after avoiding a moment of complete withdrawal from the world, things have been chugging along decently. I haven’t shut everyone out, and I'm not journey-bound to a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere to live a life of seclusion... yet. To be honest, if I had a partner and learned a bunch of that awesome survival stuff, that may not be too bad. Maybe a pet dog too, unless I could tame a bear. Or both. Both would be best. A PANDA BEAR!

Anyhow, thankfully things have calmed some and I’ve been attempting to focus on other things. Things like working out, writing, and thinking about trying to possibly find a job. That last one is probably the most important. Time is ticking.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

I have taken steps to sell various “hobby” items and it’s tax season, but the time has come to buck up and look for some work. Selling cards is a slow business, at least with what I am trying to sell. I have a habit of waiting too long and not selling while an item is hot and on the move. Oh you cursed Collector in me. Damn you to hell.

There is a slight issue with the job hunt, though. I really don’t want to work. Work a standard issue job, but more so... interviewing. I hate interviewing. If I could just walk into a place, hand them my résumé (one I need to revamp), fill out the appropriate paperwork and just start working, I’d be all for it. Unfortunately, that isn’t how the world works.

I’ve been spoiled some with having the freedom to make my own schedule for the past six years. With the new company that has taken over, I may have had a reduction in income, but at least I still have some freedom in making my own hours. Getting back out into the real world is going to strip that away mighty fast. Back to punching in and clocking out. Battling traffic. Praying my car holds out. Some of this is relieved if I get a job right down the road, which would be optimal.

Either way, I have this strong resistance to getting out there and just doing it. This usually isn’t the norm. In the past, I would stockpile funds and if things went sour somewhere I would have something to fall back on. Once the funds dwindled, back out and nabbing a job I went. Given the times, that may not be so easy to pull off anymore.

The most painful part is disappointing those trying to help. I have some friends, new and old, who are incredibly awesome at trying to amp me up and help me find work. One friend, who is half the continent away, will go off on me and load me up with tons of jobs in the area. I am thankful she isn’t in close proximity only for the reason I fear she would literally kick my ass.

Another friend is already threatening to kick me in the head. This is odd, being another time (under more “peaceful” circumstances) I think she wanted to kick me in the head too. Or, at least, that is what I thought the result would be. Needless to say, she apparently really wants her leg (or foot) around or in some close proximity to my face. It scares me.

I’m doubly thankful that these two individuals aren’t able to team up against me. I am sure I wouldn’t survive.

It’s likely I will take up a friend’s offer to spruce up my résumé, and start the hunt. Like I said, the clock is ticking down fast. As much as I professed nonchalantly, in the past, about not caring about ending up a  bum—being homeless on the street—I would rather not go that route to find out.

So a “thank you” to all those helping me! It is greatly appreciated and I will eventually get in gear, if for no other reason than having no other option.

- A Secondary Time Bomb -

Besides the job front, I have another time bomb counting down; my health.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Fortunately, this area seems to be improving. I recently joined a gym, and am attempting to go at least three times a week. I figured I would start off simple and build it up over time; small goals to begin with. Once I am more adapted to it, I hope to advance my program.

This week I watched an episode of Twin Cities Live and there was an interview with a fitness trainer. He mentioned that it took twenty one days to form a habit. There was no given time frame allowance between each specific action, but I assume it would have to be relatively close. Considering I usually go strong for 3 weeks, but then slack, this sounded like it could be right.

Out of curiosity, I scanned through my notebook I began keeping tabs in after being placed in the hospital. I kept track of what I ate, the quantities/carbs, exercises, and sleep. At the time, I had begun to use myself as my own guinea pig; a test subject. As I looked through the various entries, I noticed that I began with simple exercises like sit ups/push ups and then a gap of time doing nothing. Once getting back into the groove of things, I had shifted to using my treadmill and stationary bike. Then, once again, nothing. Each period was of about 2-3 weeks and then just died off.

So, my goal is to combine those exercises (never sure why I hadn’t before and just shifted from one to the other over time), hit the gym more, and hopefully forming a habit of it all. This is easier said than done with me, but I am optimistic.

On the way home from the gym this week, I had a crazy craving for Dairy Queen. This likely stemmed from a friend and I driving by it, and them mentioning possibly wanting ice cream. That sounded like a splendid idea, but once I was done discussing something I wanted to talk about, they were hot to trot to head home right quick. That hankering desire for a Blizzard stuck with me, though.

So that evening, coming home from the gym, I turned in towards DQ and then had that inner struggle and instead of going through the drive through I just parked in the lot. It was like I was literally fighting against the craving.

“Hey! You’re working out now, you can eat whatever you want!” my Craving said.

“But, wouldn’t that be counter-productive to my progress?” I retorted.

“Whaaaaaaaaaaat?! You know I don’t speak Spanish!” my Craving feigned confusion. It was too late, I was already on to it!

After a while, I won out and avoided grabbing a Blizzard. I rationalized this by instead optioning to grab a shake from McDs or BK. I could save a few bucks, and it couldn’t be as bad as a Blizzard could it? On the way there, I shifted over to the appropriate lane to make the left turn, but then subconsciously moved back over into the other lane and veered off onto a side road; one leading back to my place. So I had avoided yet another attempt by impulsive cravings to thwart me!

I know they say that it's best to indulge a craving, now and again, to avoid splurging and going nuts. I'm sure I will eat a handful of unhealthy things while I travel down the path of better diet/exercise; perhaps often. But, I can’t help but feel a bit proud that I was able to counter the urge. Instead, I went and bought some fruit and enjoyed that.

All I know is, I have to get my head in the game, because time is running out.

Tick-tock, tick-tock and all that jazz.

CLUELESS IS AS CLUELESS DOES

I suppose it may seem, from some of my past entries, that I am quite the ladies man. That I have these women, both available and/or taken, wanting a chance to experience The Jak.

“WTF, why does Jak gets all the ladies?” a friend recently asked. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should take it as a compliment... or insult. It was humorous, nonetheless! I assured them it was nothing more than imaginary.

Another friend likes to call me the Ladykiller. Sounds pretty creepy and serial-killerish. I always have a “story” to tell, and while true, I feel a false impression is made. They apparently believe that women adore me, or some crazy shit like that.

After all the “fluff” shouldn’t I feel pretty badass? Perhaps I really am some lady-magnet?

I assure you this isn’t the case. No where close. In fact, I am very much - what I like to call - an acquired taste. I am not exceptionally handsome, out of shape, lack strong financial backing, and am pretty awkward in most social situations. My humor definitely sounds a lot funnier in my head, compared to when spoken. All that and a cup of tea. Except that tea isn’t for everyone.

So what attracts some women to take a sip?

I would like to think deep within I am a bundle of awesome. I have some fucked up quirks, and may be a little OCD. Awkward, possibly a bit too passionate about some geekery things, and a touch of random. Okay, who am I kidding... a lot of random. At the core, though, exists this pulsing, positive source of awesome. Love. While, I may not always be utilizing it, it is always there; allowing access whenever the inner-self critic isn’t blocking it out.

Unfortunately, throughout my life, that shadow has been cast over it more often than not. This naturally causes self-love, and confidence, to waver quite often.

On those rare occasions that someone does become interested in me, there awaits another problem. I am pretty much clueless to the fact if someone has any romantic feelings for me.

I am a people watcher. I used to partake in it all the time, and still do on occasion; especially when at my Thursday night hangouts. If feeling silly, I may do voiceovers for them; maybe try to guess what they are like or what their lives may entail. Whether out and observing strangers or friends, I feel I get a good sense of their connections. Body language being a huge indicator. You can usually tell if a woman has no interest whatsoever in the man attempting to pick her up.They look around a lot. Forced smiling. Sometimes they are leaned back or away from the individual, and fidgety.

A swift slap or beverage splashing is a scenario I’ve yet to see, but I know I would enjoy it intensely.

I think I am a pretty good in intuitively knowing when someone is digging another too. I have to admit, though, commentary is way better on those awkward encounters you witness. One issue with knowing if someone is interested in another is all the mixed signals. Flirting is a big culprit. Some men and women just like to flirt, love attention, and have no real romantic interest in who they are engaged with. It’s almost like a game for them.

This has played a large part in my avoidance of “making a move” and taking a chance with a handful of women in my past (and present). Those flirtations can, and are, done between both romantic partners, possible romantic interests, friends, or strangers. I am usually able to discern them when observing others. When it comes to myself, though, I am completely dense.

The Proof is in the Pudding

During high school I had a crush on someone. Didn’t we all? We had became friends and spent a good amount of time together; spent even more time talking on the phone until the wee hours of the night. We clicked fairly well, enough to justify exploring more definitely. What eventually happened was me suggesting her dating various friends of mine. That seems pretty logical right?

So after one of these relationships just didn’t work out, her and I had a talk. She explained the reasons why, and we discussed a variety of things as we always did. Suddenly the urge to man up, and let my balls drop occurred. Now, it has been so long I can’t remember exactly what was said, except the very last statement and the eventual outcome.

“What would you say if I asked you out?” I asked shyly.

“Yes.” was the almost immediate reply.

A pause... was I thinking? Was I about to take the risk of asking her out? Wait, what risk? She had said yes already! Nope... I was just verifying my balls had retracted.

“Cool...” I returned.

We then said our standard cordial goodnights and were on our merry. We still hung out a lot and talked, but never was the discussion or topic brought up again.

This is, in turn, also an example of the confidence issue of course.

You all may be pleased (uh... those bothering to read) to know that I did eventually “man up” and made the decision to ask her out shortly after she broke up with a newer boyfriend. That boyfriend choice confused me, I remember, but hey... Who was I to judge?

So I was on the way to take the chance; it is fair to say there was legitimately more risk after time had passed, since my last smooth performance. I had a wingman even, of sorts, who I had explained it all to. So we had our pep talks and encouragement going, you know... the Ball Droppin’ mantra. Ok, that isn’t a real thing.

So we arrive at the party, where I was to make the play, and was psyching myself up. I then ran into someone I would have called more an acquaintance than a friend, at the time, being I didn’t know them very well. He seemed, and I had heard he was, a decent fellow. We talked a bit, and I wasn’t sure what to say considering I didn’t know much about him; just randomness from friends and family, nothing in depth.

It was here that he revealed to my friend and I that he planned to ask someone out. Who was that someone? The same nameless someone I was working up the courage to ask out.

I am Jak’s deflated sense of hope.

So I did what anyone would do... I cited the choice as being good, talked her up some, and encouraged him to go for it.

Then I went on my merry.

This is one of those things in life that just seems to happen for a reason; if not everything. The two of them hit it off and over time got married, had children, and are still together to this day; very happily from what I gather. I am extremely happy for them and, when I think of it, send out love in their general direction. I miss the friendship that eventually drifted over time, but that is how those things work sometimes.

So there is at least a happy ending to this story.

How Can You Eat Your Pudding...

Now my first serious relationship... well, that was interesting. An online thing. Go figure. I will spare a lot of the details leading up to meeting and such. Basically we ended up dating, and would meet once in awhile, when able. I lived up north in the stix, her down in the cities. During one of my first visits to her house, on the way out the door at the end of the evening, there was a conversation that went something like this:

“I had a great time with you tonight,” I said.

“Me too, it was a lot of fun.”

That pause.

“Do you think you would mind if I kissed you?” I asked.

“No, I want you to.”

Another pause.

“Okay.”

Then, after a few moments of me standing there like an idiot she took the initiative and kissed me. Halle-fucken-lujah! Thank god some women can take charge or I would have never gotten anywhere in the dating world for a good portion of my life.

Now sure, I was shy, and some may even view this situation as cute. What sucks is I know that, even though the girl and I were dating and said she wanted me to kiss her, I felt like maybe she wasn’t genuinely interested.

No reason to go into the mess that ensued after that point. Needless to say, it didn’t work out in the end.

...Where’s the Beef?

Throughout most of my life, there are similar instances like the above. These give a lot of evidence to just how lacking my self-confidence was.

Worse is when I can’t even tell a girl is interested in me to even allow my self-confidence to fail. I’ve gotten a lot better about knowing, so I am not a complete putz anymore. A lot of times close proximity and touching (non-sexual...) is a good indicator. Uh, okay, sexual touching is likely a good indicator too. I also no longer question if someone directly states they are okay with/want something or state they have romantic interests in me. As long as it is direct and not hinted at. Hinting just leaves me wandering aimlessly in the dark.

Regardless of having a better grasp on attraction and the signs, though, I still run into problems. I am not sure how to become better receptive of positive romantic attraction offered in my direction. All I know is I have likely missed out on a lot of opportunities, that I was mutually interested in, due to failure in correctly picking up on the signs given.

Considering my current semi-reclusive lifestyle and solo job, the opportunities to run into those chances have decreased exponentially. Outside of the whole internet dating that is. It would be nice to just meet someone while randomly out some evening, now that I am attempting to be a lot more social.

For now, I will just go on as I have; eventually I should be able to get a clue, right?

One can only hope. Sweet Mother Mary Jesus nuts, one can only hope.

DEEPER INTO THE GREY

I was delightfully surprised that there weren’t any negative responses (except maybe one over a misunderstanding) to my earlier posting “Into the Grey.” In fact, it was quite the opposite. I had planned to go into more detail at the time, but wanted to better construct that coming section. I can’t say I will succeed, but here is my attempt.

While I may dabble into the shady realms now and again, I feel it is important to point out that I am 100% able, and prefer, to be monogamous. One day I would love nothing more than spending my life, with one individual, building a family. While growing up, it was never anything I was interested in. Marriage? No way! Kids? Screw that! Over time as I... “matured” …I found that those were things I was no longer adamantly against. In fact, I currently feel like I am behind. Very behind. I thought I would already have that family and be living that life with someone special. Alas, here I am.

In the meantime, while single, I find situations conflicting and blurring those morals I retain once entwined with another. Certain factors come into play. I wouldn’t fully call them addictions, but they may be pretty damn close. One of the main being:

Sexual tension.

I love it. I have this fascination with bringing myself to the brink of temptation and trying to maintain myself. It encompasses that whole fluxing of the line. Pressing against it, bending it some, attempting to not completely break it; followed by allowing it to retract to its original form. It is exciting; it can be intoxicating.

Anyone who has truly experienced it would likely agree; intoxicating. The tension that builds up over time between two individuals where there exists an undeniable connection. Chemistry. Sure, there are different levels of attraction and it can change. Sometimes you may not be attracted to someone, but getting to know them somehow makes them so. I’ve experienced this a lot and I am sure I fall under that category for some. It can also work the reverse. Sometimes, though, it’s just there. Once it is discovered, it’s like electricity.

Once it is unlocked, it’s not a simple matter of just tucking it away. That connection has been engaged, all systems go. Alive. It wants to be explored, experienced, and heightened. Not only that, but you fill with the sense of desire to oblige those feelings. In the grand scheme of things, this would be a beautiful thing; it is a beautiful thing. But, sometimes they occur when you are at a place dictating you shouldn’t indulge.

This is life, and that attraction is human nature; not the devil or a test of faith delivered by God. Just human nature. I have heard claims, from both men and women, of people finding their “soulmate” and never being attracted to another person. This I find hard to believe. I think throughout your life you will constantly run into a multitude of individuals who you will be undeniably attracted to; all for varying reasons.  I do, however, believe that people are fully capable of being monogamous regardless of these attractions. Does being attracted to others mean you can’t be completely loyal to a partner in life? Not at all. For some, maybe. We will get to these individuals later.

Being attracted to someone has no bearing on one’s ability to maintain and adhere to the boundaries set by monogamous relationships. Even that deep rooted chemistry, almost spiritual connection, is manageable (albeit more rare and a lot more difficult). Even if that means recognizing that said individual can’t necessarily be in direct approximation with your life. If you feel, or know, you are weak around someone you feel this attraction to, and your morals and beliefs may be compromised, then you avoid placing yourself in specific situations with them.

I dislike that part, but I feel it is true. Everyone has their own moral compass and degree of willpower. It is important to be fully accepting and aware of what/where they are. You can even strengthen them, like a muscle.

For myself, I feel I have a lot of willpower. Something that I am grateful for when these temptations arise while in a serious relationship. I avoid placing myself in situations that may be morally compromising.

Even when single, though, willpower plays a role in the dance of temptation. To extend yourself and test your limits. To blur, but avoid being consumed. This is where the “addiction” factor comes into play for me. I don’t seek it out, but once sexual tension and those connections are revealed, and I am aware of them, I want to dabble. Like I said, I love it. The rush of it all. Just thinking about it now stirs feelings inside. Anticipation. Being close to someone you feel that connection with is amazing. Brushing as you pass by one another, prolonged hugs... danger... danger!

Trouble.

What else stirs these various emotions, in much the same fashion? Causes the mind to race in thought? Yearns to burst forth from you and envelope another? Lust?

Love?

This is definitely a topic I plan to touch on soon, but first...

“What was I to do? How was I to proceed?”

So there is that connection being experienced between you and another. When single, I am very prone to explore and expand on it. But what if they are involved with someone? Then into The Grey I go...

I’ve already explained this in the first entry on this topic, but with the recent experiences I can’t help but contemplate and touch on other aspects.

During my dating excursions, I found myself opening up to the possibility of polyamory. Open marriages, open relationships. Attempting to learn more about it all; what it entails, how it’s managed. I have, in the past, jumped from relationship to relationship and I felt the need to make sure I avoided doing that again. It sometimes works out, but I was (am) determined to take my time and explore options, meet people, and attempt to make sure the next relationship I get involved in is solid.

This lead me to being open-minded to all those other, less than familiar, dating/relationship possibilities. I’ve always been a curious individual and, to be honest, my views on sex, relationships, and love have shifted a lot over the last 5 years.

I never went through with experiencing any of the listed types of relationships. I met with many individuals and couples, but only one ever seemed decently sound. What most lacked was communication. Communication is key to any relationship, but possibly even more so when delving into those types of lifestyles. The one couple, in an open marriage, that seemed to have their communication golden, had yet to fully experience being with anyone other than themselves. That was enough to steer me clear of getting involved.

When you look into these alternative lifestyles, you may come to very negative realization. A lot of times, one of the two individuals is not fully on board. Some are just agreeing to the terms their partner, who they love or are dependent on, set so they don’t lose them. That is a very unstable foundation. Actually, there isn’t even a foundation.

Are these types of relationships possible? Yes, very much so; all depending on the individuals and communication involved.

It may seem to contradict my statement about my ability to be monogamous, but it doesn’t. I believe someone is able to flow between a multitude of lifestyles as their life deems fitting. With these relationships I was never to be a “primary” and much preferred to be the “other” man involved. I feel this is likely due to knowing that, in the end, I want to be with one person. May this change? It is very possible. At this time, I’ve no comparison on how I would handle a polyamorous relationship.

The conundrum I now face is how these individuals engaged in these lifestyles are so unfit for it, yet those currently in monogamous relationships are. Those that desire experiencing people, love and life on a broader, more open, scale. Some even seemingly devoid of jealousy. That hasn’t been a very prominent ability I’ve seen in many. Some fully stray. Some dabble and dance in The Grey; it calls to them, just the same as it calls to me. Some have no desire in marriage. Others are open to polyamory and are unhappy in their current relationship.

What makes them remain in their relationships? What makes some stray rather than breaking it off? I am constantly intrigued and curious about people and their decisions made; what makes them do the things they do. Even myself, sometimes. Regardless, these are some of the circumstances surrounding the individuals that entice me.

In the end, we all make our own choices. I’ve done decent over the years with avoiding casting judgment on choices made; avoiding condemnation. Learned not everything is black and white. There exists an in-between.

I would encourage you all do the same. This in-between exists in a lot more facets of life than just intimacy and relationships. I know many of you have already delved into this realm. While some of you feel confident you will never dabble, you just never know. When you least expect it, it may creep up on you. The electric, magnetic pull drawing you in. You may avoid crossing over completely, but there is a good chance you will find yourself somewhere in the middle.

“Welcome to The Grey,” you may hear whispered from somewhere deep within your soul.

At that moment, you and I will be closer in our understanding of one another. Just know you aren’t alone, and that it doesn’t have to be a scary experience. It is beautiful; it really is. The realization that your perception of “right/wrong” or “black/white” was possibly flawed. Something deeper exists.

As it were, you were invited in and welcomed. Embraced.

It only makes sense to be polite and say, “Thank you.”