I’ve always had trouble with thought-capturing sites like twitter and blogs because I never feel like I have anything good or interesting to say in either 140 characters or ten paragraphs. My mems are my own, you know? But in the past few weeks since I’ve been here I’ve partially started a second jewelry business, gotten my first tattoo*, started working at a ranch, played laser tag in a WW2 fort for America’s B-Day, read at least 12 books, and booked my first (mostly) solo trip to New Zealand. So it’s actually been a pretty good eight or so weeks. And maybe I’m not as boring as I think I am.
But it hasn’t all been gravy. Being alone for most of the day was great at first. I got to wander, think about important stuff, think about mediocre stuff, think about nothing, drink tea-quila whenever I wanted, take naps when the moment struck, read all day, focus on business things, subscribe to Black Swan’s online yoga studio clasess, not shower or put on pants, and generally unwind my mind from the stress of sales and a company who slowly stripped me of myself for the last 3.5 years.
But when it boils down to it I like to consider myself an “extroverted introvert”; I like to be in the thick of things but able to withdraw if I want to. Ghosting from groups I was a second ago laughing uproariously with is a favorite. Put me in a crowd of 1,000 and just let me dance with every single person, as long as they (god forbid) don’t try to start a conversation after. Let me be a fly on the wall of a house party and hand me a fly-sized drink, that’s heaven. I love feeling the energy of a place and telling stories, interacting, being a good human bean for as long as I can until I’m suddenly over it, and then it’s see ya late. I’m not trying to be rude, and the people who know me best understand that if they don’t see me at a party anymore they can catch up with me tomorrow because I’ve transported home to cuddle my dog.
Real talk now, something I’d never comfortably share with most people: In the opposite vein of the above, it’s always been hard to me to make and keep a close group of friends. Even people I vibe really well with I have a hard time keeping close. Am I aloof? Am I annoying? Am I too loud? Do people think I’m too independent and don’t need their company? Is my face on properly?
I’ve explained it to some people as it seems like a rumor has been started that I’m not privy to and it keeps both new and old friends away, but this seems like a tin-foil-hat conspiracy theory that I don’t really want to believe in. It’s hard for me to talk to people unless we’re already good friends, and it’s even harder for me to text new friends to see what’s up and if they’d like to hang out. The fear of rejection is strong in this one.
Not being invited out to parties or groups with people who you’ve considered close and hearing about it later seemed to happen a lot back home, and stung enough that I became veiled in a thick blanket of self-doubt. It’s even harder when the whole larger group runs in smaller, even tighter knit friend circles within itself. Sometimes I’d hang out with people and they’d say “you’re great, I don’t know why we haven’t hung out more!” I’d get quietly stoked inside for a new friend, we’d exchange numbers, and then nothing ever came of it. I don’t know who is supposed to reach out first in these situations, and when I try to hang out with people or organize a group lots of people would be busy. I’d make a terrible dude trying to date.
The fact that people came to the birthday Nathan threw me was genuinely surprising. I had terrible anxiety once he told me he was throwing a surprise party that only my other friend Kim was going to come, but even a few old friends I hadn’t seen in a while turned up. The people who did actively want to hang out, who reached out first and have kept in contact with me since the move I am so grateful for and can’t thank enough for their friendship. It was a light in the darkness of feeling surrounded by two-faced people and not knowing who to approach and not be turned away.
So moving here has been cathartic in the fact that I’ve been able to wipe myself of those prejudices. I realized the other day that I’m not anxious about boat parties or lake houses or weekend trips or friends going out to the bar for the first time in a few years. It made me sad to realize how much of my time in Austin was consumed by not feeling good enough to hang out with these people, and putting on a my best face whenever I was in the hopes that someone would notice me and include me ‘next time’. The only place I ever felt truly at home was the Met apartments, and most of my friends have moved out; it won’t be the same when I come home.
But here in Oz it’s just me. I can be whoever I want, I can meet whoever I want. It doesn’t feel like anyone has shared anything behind my back or is looking at me funny. People are friendly and open and want to know where I’m from, what I’m doing, about my travels. That doesn’t mean I’ve been able to shake the feeling that Austin left me with. I’m incredibly nervous to go to places alone here, even places touted as being very social and friendly, because the feeling of being left out again after putting yourself out there is so strong. I have met a couple of really great people but when you’re (fun?)employed the time in which you’d like company is exponentially more than is able to be given.
With another move possibly looming I’m also consumed with thoughts of if Austin is still the right place for me. I think moving away has shaken some of the feelings of inadequacy and stagnancy that I had been feeling for the better part of my final year there, and if I moved back I’d reach out to the people I had wanted to become closer friends with much more confidence. The idea of San Francisco; in my mind dark, rainy, cold, with one friend who has moved there but may follow the tried and true Austin formula, scares me. In Austin I know the culture and social scene well enough to say that I can eventually find my niche. I know the bars where I am happy being alone and likely to meet people. I know the streets I can bike safely and I know where all of the Torchy’s locations are without needing to use Google maps. My business and some of the female networking events/craft shows that popped up before I left were already affording me many new opportunities and like-minded people, so I’m sure I’d find my niche eventually.
But being without Nathan is also a concept I don’t want to face. Most guys I meet leave a sour feeling in my brain, an empty rasping of ear-to-ear space, smoke tendrils moving languidly behind my eyes as they talk about sports or drinking or whatever it is most guys like to talk about. It’s rare to meet someone the right age who is funny, who likes books/science/good movies, doesn’t treat XX chromosomes as objects, and who you are comfortable just being quiet with. So many dudes “on the market” are without form or substance, wrapped up in themselves and chasing girls, the epitome of the Men In Black “Cockroach Dude” voice I use in my head when I look at them. It’s hard to describe in so many words what Nathan brings without the immediate comparison I go through when speaking with some random guy. Not to say that the good ones aren’t out there, but why should anyone have to slosh through acres of mud to find one golden coin? It’s exhausting. So I’m struggling with the idea of places and people, and at the same time trying to enjoy my time here in Oz. Meet new friends. See if I like myself as much as I think other people should, or if maybe everyone’s right after all.
Anyway, the next post will be about travel, not introspection! Onwards and upwards.
* I have since gotten another tattoo, whoops! sorry mom.
** I have now also skydived at 15,000 feet, skiied for the first time and have the sick bruises to prove it, luged down a mountain, and ridden horses around the Lord of the Rings locations. no biggie