Socializing the Hermit

I’m not sure if I believe that our astrological signs have any bearing on our lives, but they say that Libras need balance in their lives and this is true of me. I absolutely need my moments of solitude, and over the past couple of years I have been lucky enough to have many of those moments, and my wife has been understanding enough to let me have them. But I also need a social life. I crave interaction, not only with one person, or two people, but with groups of people. Even if I am quiet for the bulk of the time I spend in the company of others, their company soothes me and energizes me in a way I could never properly thank them for. And of all the deepest, dankest pits I’ve taken myself to emotionally over the last few years, it is that place I go when I have been deprived of socializing that is the most horrible.

Which is why Thursday served as an embarrassment of riches. Not only did I have lunch with friends, I had dinner with a whole separate group of friends, and I went to see a play to boot! The happy feeling inside of me swelled, despite some late-night drama, and I am pleased to report that the lingering aftershocks of that happy feeling are still with me now, as I type this on Friday morning. There was a bit of a hangover feeling to get over, probably due to lack of sleep and the last vestiges of my unwavering headcold, but that’s to be expected, I suppose. I am an old man, after all.

On with the story…

I did lunch with Sara, Jill, and Scott on the green across from the Boston Public Library. And though I sniffled throughout our little picnic, it was good to catch up with my Lesley pals and to see what they’d been up to. All of us are acutely aware that it takes entirely too much effort for us to get together, seeing as we, for the most part, work within a five mile radius of one another, but I think we’ve gotten beyond the stage of harping on this unfortunate fact. There simply doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it, and I, for one, am just glad that we get together at all.

Anyway, it was a pleasant lunch and a good way to break up a tense workday. It was also, as I gather, perhaps that last time we’ll see Jill for a good, long while, as she’s thinking about moving back home to Jersey so that she can land a job in Manhattan. I didn’t hug Jill goodbye, and I felt sad about that, but I suppose my constant sniffling was a little off-putting.

After work, I hopped on the subway to make my way towards South Station. I was set to meet up with Beth and several other people I wasn’t sure I had ever met, our eventual plan involving dinner and a trip to see the play that Andy had co-directed. Funnily enough, as happened the last time I saw Beth (at the Nine Inch Nails show back in May), she walked right past me as I was saying her name. Instead of wandering away as if I’d been dissed though, as I think I’d sort of done the time before, I persisted in following Beth around the sidewalk outside South Station until I could get her attention. When I finally did, we hugged and we set out to find the others. I, not knowing who the others were, or what they might look like, was not much help.

Except that it turned out I did know who the other people were, or at least some of them. When we finally came upon the three girls we were meeting up with, there was one I was sure I’d met before, another I thought I might have seen in passing, and a third I was sure I should know but didn’t. It later came out, at dinner, that the one I was sure I’d met before was Elizabeth, who I’d met back in 2003 when JonMartin and I bumped into Andy and friends at the Showcase Cinemas in Lowell. Though I had already made an ass of myself in not remembering an old high school joke of which I was the subject, I think I made up for it by dipping into the well of my obscure memories and remembering what movie it was that Elizabeth and Andy and everyone else had been coming out of when Jon and I caught up with them (it was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)—although I’m sure Beth would argue that remembering that bit of trivia hardly makes up for the fact that I didn’t remember a joke of which I, myself, was the butt.

We did dinner at a place where I was sure I was supposed to order something more sophisticated than a hamburger, but didn’t. And we were joined by another person I hadn’t seen in ages: another Andy (although, I suppose calling him “another” Andy would, at this juncture, be misleading, as we were not yet in the presence of the aforementioned Andy, whose play we were going to see). I’d gone to high school with Andy, and only really knew him from afar, but it was cool to see him nevertheless. We ate and we talked, we talked and we ate, and then we went off to see the play.

The play was good, though the performance space was atrociously hot and, late as it was, I ended up heading back to Alewife with Beth, who ended up giving me a ride to Lowell so that I didn’t have to wait in North Station for a train that might never come. And then I got in my car and went home and went to sleep.

It was a grand day, for the most part. And though I’m tired and question whether I’ll make it through the day without a nap on my lunchbreak, I feel as if it was all worth it. No longer a total hermit, I feel as if I am finally making my way back out into the world. I am finally finding, after much searching, a certain balance.