Sunday, May 15, 2016

High School and Large Groups of New People

Two things that terrify me: high school and meeting large groups of new people all at once. Or at all.

Two things I did this weekend: revisited high school and met a large group of new people all at once - and when I say 'large group,' I'm talking relative to meeting, say, one new person. It was at least twice that. (It was two people.) It was even a blind date-type of situation, which is even more daunting. More on that in a moment.

First, high school:

On Friday night, I went to a Yearbook Party. I capitalized that as though Yearbook Parties are a common thing that most people know about and go to regularly. I don't think this is true. I think we even invented it, kind of (probably not). Everyone had to dress as their high school selves and bring whatever yearbooks they still had in their possession, and then we listened to Big Shiny Tunes and applied Lip Smackers and laughed at each others' teenager-ness. It was a super vulnerable exercise. I don't love my teenager-ness, but I also feel fiercely protective of it. Like, "Don't laugh at her; she was so young. She didn't know what she was doing/wearing/saying/thinking." I generally would like for the people I know now to not even come into contact with the people I knew then. I'd like for people to pretend Me Now is Me Always and not do any kind of dangerous delving.

But we delved. We read valedictorian speeches (not mine, duh) and pointed out funny haircuts and a thing I discovered is that no one Now is them Always. And I need to cut Me Then some slack because she was living in the 90s and everyone was just kind of ridiculous in the 90s. Poor Me Then. Poor all of us Then. Besides, in the 2030s, Me Then is going to think Me Now is a lamewad. I'm going to be all embarrassed about my skinny jeans and bad sense of humour. Plus, I'll have this online record of me from this entire decade of my life that anyone will be able to access whenever they want (THANK GOODNESS BLOGS WERE NOT AROUND FOR HIGH SCHOOL ME -- CAPS LOCK WARRANTED). (Related: is blogging maybe a terrible idea?)

This is convoluted. Not a good lead-in to the other thing I did this weekend.

Speaking of the other thing I did this weekend: do you remember in the fall when I did that Writer-in-Residence thing? Well she, the aforementioned Writer, emailed a couple of weeks ago to suggest I meet up with a few other local women who had gone to see her. She was like, "Here are some email addresses. You guys should all hang. Be friends. Write together. Whatever whatever." Like a teenage girl who's been in a committed relationship for three months and is anxious for her single friends to join her in Dating Land. A literary matchmaker.

Most of us bit.

So today, I went to a coffee shop to meet up with these women, and I didn't even realize until I got there that I had no idea what they looked like. I should've said I was going to be holding a red rose or wearing a hat with a feather or something. I had a friend with me, another victim of Dr. Nilofar's matchmaking scheme, and we picked a table at the very back of the cafe and assessed every single person who walked through the doors.

"Do you think she looks like a writer?"

"Oh, no, see? She's with that guy."

"Right. How about her?"

"Nah. She looks like she's been playing sports."

"Right. Writers don't play sports?"

"I don't think so. Do you play sports?"

"No."

A few of the women didn't even show up, which was kind of a relief for my frazzled nerves. Meeting people has gotten hard in recent years. I used to love it, but now it's a whole big Thing. I blame it on the Internet, because I think that's what my generation blames everything on. I'm not sure how, but the Internet has made me afraid of people. It might have something to do with YouTube comments sections, or it might have something to do with avatars being so much smaller than actual people. I mean, if you look at tiny little people all day long, real, actual-sized people are kind of startling.

So anyway, the women came into the shop and seemed to find us with no problem, and I didn't spontaneously combust when we shook hands. They were really nice, which was helpful, and smart, and, like, legit writer-types. It was the kind of blind date where you go hoping the other person doesn't turn out to be a dud and then, after you meet them, you realize that you're actually the dud. And then you're like, "Rats. I hope there's going to be a second date even though I'm the dud."

But we made a second date. I think we're officially a club or something. It was really exciting, but I'm already nervous for that one. I think I laughed too loud and agreed with everyone too quickly today. I worry that my smile looked pained or that I made too much or too little eye contact. I'm trying to imagine that they're all introverted and ultra-shy too, to make myself feel better. Do I feel better? I don't think so. I can't tell. My stomach feels like it's full of lightbulbs.

Lightbulbs! Can you imagine?


9 comments:

  1. This is so sweet, and comforting because I feel just the same. I've even been trying recently to cut my 22-year-old self some slack because seriously, she was getting migraines all the time so how could she be expected to act like a normal human being, and anyway it all worked out for the best.

    Anyway... I'm still friends with some schoolmates but thankfully there hasn't been any sort of reunion - I was a bit nervous it might happen after 10 years but that passed last year, phew :)

    And I recently started meeting up with other local bloggers, the first time I told a weird story that made me seem a bit mad, but the second time was much better! Good luck with your writing group, it sounds really nice, and I'm sure you're right that they were feeling shy too - remember you and your friend had each other, whereas the rest were presumably on their own? I'm sure next time will be comfortable :)

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one. It's so legitimately terrifying. I push through it though, because it's so often worth it - as was absolutely the case yesterday. I'm so happy I went.

      And we didn't have a 10 year reunion either! Weird. I thought that was, like, mandatory!

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    2. Aaaaaaaah, I'm one of those local bloggers (and, Emma, I don't remember you seeming mad; I think you're ace).

      Now I need to figure out how to meet YOU, Suzy. When are you coming back to Scotland?!

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    3. Haha! Small [blog]world!

      And oh MAN. I hope soon. It's been too long (like five years, I think?). And when I do, we are going to hang out.

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  2. I just love your writing. I love it. I feel the exact way meeting new people. My jaw dropped over your bravery to face your high school people and yearbooks. I could never.

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    1. You are so sweet. And, again, I'm so glad I'm not the only one!!

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  3. Were the other guests at your Yearbook Party people you knew in high school or more recent friends? Either way it sounds like a fun anxiety-inducing nostalgia fest.

    I recently rediscovered that High School Me actually did have a blog (Xanga, how could I have forgotten you?!) in the days when a blog was an online journal seen only by friends you knew in real life. It had the same name as my AIM screen name, because of course. I read a bit and it was both horrifying and amazing. Kind of like reading through a more public version of a high school diary. Yikes. And, oh! That feeling of being both critical and fiercely protective of your younger self. I often wish I could reach through time to give younger me a pat on the back and reassure her that everything will be okay.

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    1. Actually, none of them were friends from high school - BUT. In an interesting twist of fate, three of them were married to people I knew in high school. So that's kind of weird, I guess (their husbands weren't there).

      Oh Xanga! I'm so glad I didn't know it existed back then. My diaries are all safe and sound (most of them in the trash, which thankfully has no recovery file). Yikes yikes yikes.

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  4. The image of your stomach being full of lightbulbs...that's a good description.

    And I, too, would prefer that the people I know now not to come in contact with the people I knew then. It's always a little strange when worlds collide like that.

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