Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sometimes Say Hi to Strangers

When I was a little kid, I met another little kid at a mall in some huge city - stop me if I've told this one before - and the kid became my friend. I said to the kid, Meet me at The Swimming Pool tonight, and she said, Sure. When we walked away, my mom was like, This is some huge city, Suzy. It has hundreds of swimming pools. You'll never see that kid again. And I was like, Just you watch. And she was like, What hotel are they staying at? Are they even staying at a hotel? I shrugged. What did that matter?

Sure enough, that night, at some random hotel in that huge city, I met up with my friend, who just happened to be staying at the same place.

This is because of some weirdo law: it is waaaaaay easier to make friends when you are a little kid than when you are an adult. Like, if I picked a random adult in a mall and said to them, Hey. Want to be friends? they'd be like, No, not really. I have all these other friends. Plus I have kids/a spouse/a pet/a hobby/a volunteer position/a demanding job and don't have time to be your friend. Plus, you're weird; people don't just walk up to other people in malls and ask this question straight up. We're adults. We don't say what we mean. We do everything in a confusing, roundabout way.

And I'd be like, Fair enough.

And even if they did say that they wanted to be my friend, and I was like, Cool, meet me at The Swimming Pool, we'd probably end up at two different swimming pools. It's like adults are not supposed to be friends with each other. It's like there's an invisible force trying to stop it.

And, I mean, I don't know if you've experienced this, but as I get older - notice I didn't say old, I know I'm not old - I am getting progressively worse at social interactions. At, like, simple small talk and polite introductions. Chit chat. I think about things I never used to, such as, What should I do with my hands? Am I smiling in a fake way? What if my eyes pop right out of my head?

The worst.

Anyway, so there was this thing down the street yesterday called an Instameet - basically, a bunch of adults who don't know each other except for on Instagram go hang out and walk around and play with their cameras. They had one last year and I went for about...half an hour? And then I just quietly slipped away down a back alley at one point and went home. It was too much! There were so many people and I didn't know any of them.

This year, I decided I would go. And then I decided I would stay home. And then I decided I would go. And then I decided not to. And then, at exactly 3 o'clock, when they were supposed to be meeting in front of the museum, I decided I would get in my car and drive past. And if they were still there by the time I got myself and Sullivan out the door and down the street, I would maybe park, get out of my car, and walk past. And if they seemed to recognize me from Instagram and smiled at me, then perhaps I would stop walking and, effectively, be there.

So that's what I did. They smiled, I stopped, and we all had a great time.

Pretty much all of them seemed to be very serious, very good photographers - they had neat equipment and fancy cameras and I was there with my plastic La Sardina, but it was cool - no one seemed to care. I brought my little Sony point and shoot too and showed Sullivan how to work both cameras. I met a bunch of people I've previously only known from Instagram (how dorky do I sound right now?), and liked them all. I told a girl that I was nervous and she said she was too and that helped a lot. It was really nice.

These are some of the pictures Sullivan took:

And these are the ones I took:

I stayed for over two hours, and am now officially an extrovert (just kidding). But seriously: it's a good thing for me to remember: don't always make excuses not to do things. Sometimes do things you are afraid of. Sometimes say hi to strangers. That's how you make friends.