Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Of my twelve or so classmates, there are five who I like quite a lot – who I think of as my school friends. And yet? Twice recently, I’ve come home and cried after having drinks with them. Literally. First on Friday and then last night.
I have felt totally foreign and uncomfortable in social situations lately, and I have felt desperate to be surrounded by the people who know me and who I know. I can’t remember the last time I had to make friends from scratch. Is it possible to put it that way?
The truth of the matter is (with very few exceptions) that my friends in Baton Rouge are people I’ve known for ten to fifteen years or more. My friends who aren’t in Baton Rouge, but are scattered all over the country – these are also people who I’ve known for at least a good fifteen years - twenty even! So, of course I feel beyond comfortable around them. Of course, they “get” me. I am deeply rooted to these friends.
I’m complaining. And I don’t want to be complaining. But I miss the intimacy of unstated understanding between people. In making new friends, it feels as if there is quite a lot of unstated misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Maybe I’m trying to put this in terms too abstract.
There are physical conditions. The way that my stomach aches while I write – a feeling like butterflies, but nervous, anxious, sad butterflies instead of happy, excited fluttering. The way I could cry right now, thinking about all these people in my life. The ones in BR and beyond. I am hungry for them. My heart is hungry for them. For a good, goofy laugh at possibly nothing.
And then there is Baton Rouge itself. You would think I should not miss that place. But I do. It’s more than the food right now. It’s the familiarity of faces and attitudes, and frankly the shadows cast by trees, the color of grass, the way the land spreads flat and wide and sometimes looks like it is slightly sinking. The color of oak pollen spread over the ground and cars– chartreuse? Blooming azaleas. Delicate tissue-papery crape myrtle petals on the sidewalk. Are there blood colored camellias now too? Muddy brown water. I miss every single color of Baton Rouge.
I could go home to BR and sit at Perks or walk around the lakes or ride my bike around the Garden District. I could strike up a conversation with any stranger if I wanted – at the grocery store even. I could make a new friend in a heartbeat. Even with strangers, there is the unstated understanding of common ground. I don’t know why it feels so difficult on new earth.
I miss you BR folks, something mean. The old friends. The new friends. Even acquaintances and familiar loiterers and bums. Walking into a place or a party – a place or party full of strangers, and feeling 100 percent like ME. Entirely comfortable inside of my skin. What do you make of that?
SONG: Together, The Raconteurs (listening to it on repeat obsessively lately)