October 07, 2007
Today I wrote in my diary, for the first time in over a month, and I wrote three pages of teary melodrama about my insecurities and unfulfilled wishes. At the end of it I admonished myself in a new color, "Reach out a little bit when you don't want anything back. It might help you." I took my own advice and went and baked cookies for the nice bike shop dudes who have once again fixed my tires for free, and I hopped on my bike during a break in the rain to bring them to the shop.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I brought gratitude cookies to Gottsi once and got a strange, awkward reception that stuck in my memory today and almost convinced me not to bother again. But the nice bike dudes were surprised and happy, and they dug in and promised to save some for the guys who weren't working today, and they invited me to hang out for a while and have a beer. So I stayed for a half hour and talked about music and bikes and other places to live, which may be the standard stereotypical overused Portland conversation but is still okay in my book.
When I left, it was just starting to sprinkle again and I was slightly unsteady from my deliciously random beer. I pedaled slowly, out of my way and off the main streets, enjoying the rain on my face and my relief that my rather anxious gesture of goodwill had gone well. The rain turned into a downpour, the unsteadiness persisted, and by the time I got home I was a Portland cliche of drunken bicycling in the rain. I walked in the front door and was greeted by my renting roommate's lady friend, who thanked me cutely for covering her bike seat against the rain and offered me a piece of her pizza.
At the end of the day, or at least the 7:07 of the day, I am alone in the house after everyone has left without me, and I have been this a lot lately. But today I made a gesture of connecting with someone, and it wasn't rejected the way I'm always convinced it will be. It's a good step and I'm going to go savor it for a while... either in an extremely hot shower or under the pile of blankets I bought today. That is some fucking cold rain out there.
Posted by dianna at October 7, 2007 07:07 PM
Nod to the bravery. I am crap at all that scary reaching out stuff.
I've sometimes thought I'd be better off if I'd had different sorts of jobs. Working at a bar or a bike shop or a landscape gardening firm with a lot of people my age would surely have netted me more friends than stuffy office work. What do you think?
I second the bravery nod, because I'm also kind of crap at that stuff. I'm glad your cookies went over well and were received with graciousness and beer.
Over the last couple of years I've frequently thought about how much I owe my current social life to school. It's pretty easy to make friends in grad school -- you've got a rough age group, cohorts, similar interests, similar things to complain about, and a lot of built-in conversation. And you quickly winnow out the people you can't stand and spend a lot of time with the people who are awesome. At this point, a lot of my friends are town kids, not school kids, but it took a few years of going to the same places with school friends to meet these other folks and get to know them. That kind of slow, easygoing social-life-building is good for me, because what I'm utter crap at is finding groups of people who do things I want to do and then showing up out of the blue and going "Hey! Can I join your [board game group/women's shop time at the bike church/quilting bee]?" But I keep making resolutions to learn how to do that. Hanging out with the bike shop guys is way too ballsy for me, except the ones I'm already friends with, and then not even at the bike shop.
Also, bundle up warm & don't get pneumonia, because I want to come up there this weekend, goddammit.
Kris: I have also spent a great deal of time thinking that I would make friends more readily in a different job. Secretarialism tends to make one the token under-35 person in an office full of people all doing a different thing than what you're doing (architecture, professoring, whatever, while what you are doing is being their secretary) and it does not make one feel terribly included or really even includable.
On the other hand, getting a stuffy office job tends not to involve impressing people who are one's age-and-interest peers, while cool jobs that involve a lot of contact with interesting young people seem to be gotten primarily by impressing the sort of people I have trouble meeting and interacting with (to say nothing of impressing) because I'm too intimidated by them. Plus they pay shit, but I realize I am speaking to a freelance writer here.
Heh. Yeah. Although getting paid any money at all to do the thing you most love to do in the world is a good deal. Working from home is not a good way to make friends though.
It seems good to join something, like a group of people who ride bikes on Sunday mornings, or a volunteer organization. If it's something you really enjoy and are good at then it's probably easy, like how I can confidently talk about books with strangers at parties.
Katie: your grad-school springboard to friendmaking seems analogous to my co-op springboard to friendmaking. When you live with 49 other people, or go to all the same classes as however many are in your grad-school cohort, you cannot help but make friends with some of them.
Part of my purpose in moving to Portland is actually to reassure myself that it is possible to make friends in ways other than that, and to learn to do so. I sometimes forget that it is permissible to interact with people you meet at, e.g., the bike shop, and that it is not necessary to be all standoffy based on where they are standing when you happen to meet them. I don't know where I got that idea in the first place, but it kind of sucks.
I had sort of an epiphany last month at this particular shop, when I brought my bike in for something and spent a few minutes talking about Musicfest (which was going on at the time) with one of the shop guys. When I turned to leave, he said, "maybe I'll see you around," and I replied with something like, "yeah, I'm sure I'll come back for something." And he gave me this funny look and said, "Uh, actually I meant at some of the shows this weekend." And I thought, that's right, how remarkable, you're actually not a robot confined to the interior of the bike shop, you go out and do stuff too and it's entirely possible that I will see you around.
Now having spent some ridiculous amount of time typing that, I'm having another cup of tea and going back to bed and trying not to get pneumonia.