I met up with a friend for coffee this afternoon. The coffee shop environment provided me with some kind of familiarity as I’m not a social person. For me, being in a room full of people talking and laughing is an exhausting step toward being somewhat solidified in this world as a human being with a need to be around my kind of people.
My coffee friend is my kind of people. There is not a whole lot of my kind of people living and breathing on this planet. With that being said, I still desperately need to find them.
I’m pretty adaptable, or at least I like to think that I am. My military childhood was constantly interrupted by moving trucks and trying to remember my new address. I was quick to make friends in all of my new neighborhoods. The usual method consisted of knocking on the doors of neighbors that I thought might have kids living with them and asking if they were allowed to come out and play. Being a multi-family housing ‘hood, the number of kids was pretty darn healthy. Sometimes, I didn’t even have to knock on the neighbors’ doors. Their kids were already paused at the end of my driveway in front of our moving van, resting on their bicycles and asking us if we could get out of hauling boxes and play with them. My parents, eager to get me out of their hair, always said yes. So, yeah…piece o’ cake. I could make a best friend in two minutes flat.
Until the summer before I turned thirteen, that is. That summer marked the first time I actually sat on my new porch at my new house by myself and decided that this whole “making friends” business was crap. It was a civilian town, a civilian neighborhood, and nobody was staring me down from the end of my driveway asking me to come hang out. My social skills went out the window while I simultaneously turned into a teenager. As if that wasn’t awful enough, I had no friends on my thirteenth birthday.
Here I am now, at the age of 34, and I feel like I’m still that teenager with no social skills. It’s like my ability to forge new relationships with people stalled on my front porch back in 1989. I am lucky in that I was given the most incredible group of friends during my high school years, after I had moved back onto a military base. I consider them my family, the ones with whom I share the horrors and elations of our high school experience. They are still the ones I think of when I remember what it’s like to find my kind of people.
Maybe that’s what has stunted my social growth. My inability to let go of them and look into this new crowd of unfamiliar faces terrifies me. Though I have lived in this city for nine years, I still feel like the new kid on the block. It’s unsettling, this reaction I have to meeting someone for the first time. And I think it really sucks that I can’t just get over it. Like any normal person, I tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. Not only do these scenarios make my hands sweat and my face itch, but really idiotic stuff tends to fly out of my mouth in a lame attempt to be witty. When that happens, it can usually be translated into: PLEASE LIKE ME!!!!
I think my brain lost the ability to filter nonsensical dialogue roughly twenty-one years ago. Don’t be offended, really. It’s just that I have no freakin ‘ idea what I’m saying.