I call myself an introvert.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Alessia Cara’s “Here”, but that’s essentially how I’ve always seen myself when it comes to most social situations. I’m not here to make friends or grind on you or be grinded on. I just want to have a good time with the friends I came with/for and maybe eat some good food and listen to good music and not be touched, thank you.
Recently, though, things have changed. Chalk it up to an increase in confidence and self-respect over the years, or what I hope is the acquisition of wisdom, but I don’t hold myself as tightly wound as I once did. And that’s not to say that introverted people are tightly wound. Some people really don’t see worth or value in releasing (some) inhibitions and whittling away the hours with dance and drink and conversations stupid enough to make you laugh. It’s definitely not something I’d want to do every weekend with strangers who don’t give a damn about me.
This month (yeah, I could say ‘this year’ and I think it’d accurately display how often this occurs), I got invited to a house party by my cousin and an old friend from high school. For a number of reasons, I would normally have declined–as I usually do when it comes to gatherings of any sort, especially with that group. Wrapping myself up in a blanket with a bowl of ice cream and a good show on Netflix or maybe a couple hours wasted on the Sims seemed a lot more enticing and a lot less irksome when I thought about it. But because I decided recently to say no less often and get out more, and because I secretly hoped for a change in the redundancy of my life, I agreed. So I got off of work (at 10 pm, mind you), changed into a cute outfit I bought the week before on a terrible splurge of a shopping spree (shout out to reckless emotional spending), put on a shade of lipstick I always thought was a little too much for me (that happened to fade off at least by halfway through the night), and drove the thirty minutes across the city to my old acquaintance’s post-graduation home. I had to hype myself up with music and self-made motivational speeches the entire way, but I made it, parked on a curb across the street like the badass that I’m not, and had to call my cousin because I didn’t know which door to march up to.
I considered myself to have had a history with a good portion of the people in that house. They were a part of an exclusive group I technically belonged to but didn’t quite exist in (is this the fate of all high school choir students?). I could recount maybe all of three encounters with them back in high school, all of which had left me feeling annoyed, awkward, unwanted, or a whopping combination of the three. My old friend (let’s call him Fred. He’d like that) Fred and my cousin were the only people in that group who weren’t wholly associated with the shit-feeling vibe.
Some backstory on Fred:
Coming into high school, I’d decided to leave behind my 100-or-less-student-population-per-grade-level on-base campus for a five-star population high school on a year that the campus was being entirely rebuilt and everything was confusing as hell. I knew all of four people in that school going in, and two of them were seniors that I’d be lucky to pass in the hallways occasionally. Fred was one of my first friends. I shared two classes with him. I think our relationship was essentially a composition of terrible humor, half-assed conservative v. liberal debates, and regular old freshman stupidity. I valued him because, after a terrible middle-school social experience, he valued me. Maybe we didn’t tell each other everything, but we certainly told each other a lot. If I had a crush or boy problems, he knew about it, and vice-versa. We went to football games together, ate our lunches together, and weren’t exactly close but…well, like I said. We valued each other. I distinctly remember once hanging out with him and having someone bring up a guy I used to have a crush on, and a complicated-but-not-so-complicated relationship with, and Fred saying with absolute decisiveness, “I don’t like that guy. He hurt my friend.” Swoon.
I’m not completely sure when that changed. It was a big school. We didn’t have classes together anymore after that first year. If I ever had his phone number, I didn’t keep it for long. Then he became a part of that exclusive group that I felt invisible to, and I eventually came to the conclusion that we weren’t really friends anymore—if we ever were.
Human relationships, am I right?
Drunk Fred seemed to begrudge me a little for that. He opened up to me a bit in the clutter of his kitchen before saying, with narrowed eyes, something along the lines of, “I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Well, I guess you can’t really judge me. You don’t even know me anymore.”
Which is true. Then he also conceded that I wouldn’t judge him even if we were ‘close like we used to be’, because I’m not that type of person, which is honestly the best acknowledgement to my personality I’ve heard in a while.
All in all, despite what may or may not have been fake adoration on the part of the majority of people there, the emotional drama that might come with a close-knit, secretly heart-broken group that’s been together for too long, and some misguided flirting, I had fun at that party. I let go and played (and won) a game of beer pong. I danced and sang. I laughed a pretty decent amount. Even though I’m not sure I planted the seeds of any kind of long-lasting relationships (how many of those half-hearted ‘keep in touches’ do you get before you realize it’s just words?), I think I’d go again. There’s something about being in a place that takes you out of your head for a while that’s pretty wonderful, even if it only happens once a month or a year or whatever.