Tonight I went out to celebrate the 3rd year anniversary of the first email sent on Rachel Sklar’s XX in Tech listserve. There was an open bar, but I drank only water. I think this may have been a first for me. It wasn’t hard or anything. I’ve had a few debates in my day with people who were looking out for my well-being and those who were simply self-righteous hypocrites about whether or not I was an alcoholic. I’m not, I just like to drink. But I like not drinking just as well.
When I was at this open bar I didn’t get cravings, I didn’t sit in the corner isolating myself from all thoughts of alcohol. I happily drank water and said no thank you whenever anyone offered me a drink.
On my way home I stopped at a hot dog restaurant because all the windows were open and it was nice outside, and also because I wanted a hot dog. I sat down in the far corner with the latest edition of n+1 and began reading about our post-sociological society, when a woman sat down next to me, also by herself. I told her I liked her skirt. “Thanks, it’s actually a dress,” she said. We chatted intermittently while I waited for my hot dog and she waited for her beer. I learned she was from Russia and worked at an Irish pub on the West side. It was pleasant conversation, but I kept burying myself into my reading material. I like n+1 because it’s the kind of text that makes you get lost in thought. I read a sentence, and then zone out for a minute thinking about what I just read until I realize I’m making some start realization about my life, so far away from the content that I snap my attention back into it to digest. It’s kind of like how dolphins sleep, I’d bet.
Then I realized that this was the first time I’d read printed material for my own intellectual enjoyment in a while. Something besides the news, or research for an article. I’ve had that edition of n+1 for two weeks now, and I’m still only on page 10. The Russian chick kept chatting at me. She was trying to make friends, and five years ago maybe we would have become best friends. Five years ago, I met my best friend in a similar way when she spilled coffee on me at Atlas. But now, I’ve long past that theoretical capacity where you can’t mentally add anyone to your social circle. I love making friends and having friends, and it’s not like that number actually exists in a rigid way. I just have no time for myself lately which lowers the quality of friendship I can offer, so I try to resist unless it’s so compelling I can’t resist (which still happens at least once a week).
Two of the Russian’s friends walked up just as I was finishing my hot dog. She asked me if I wanted to go to a show down the street with them. Five years ago I would have. But I told her I had to go home and work, and referenced my n+1 like that had anything to do with it. In a way it did. I needed to go restore my sanity by sitting alone in my apartment on Friday night, practicing the flute and going through my starred email list and doing the things I needed to do so I don’t have anxiety dreams. Those are the worst.
But I’m glad she offered to be my friend. It makes me all the more certain that I can go anywhere in the world and experience the best of the place, because something about me makes people want to invite me to experience things with them. I haven’t quite figured out what that is yet, but I’m glad it’s this way and not the other way around.