Second helpings of Single Serving Friends

I am an introvert, even though my social calendar and facebook photos don’t hint at it.  I struggle with the true meaning of friendship and I really don’t consider myself a people person.  I hate waking up to people, especially to people talking – even more so if they are talking to me. I make no promises that how I feel today will be how I feel tomorrow, but I am vocal about those changes and I honor all commitments regardless of my feelings. I figure what I lack in personality stability, I make up for in loyalty (or honesty about my lack there of).  And yet, about two weeks ago I reached a personal crossroad where my quantity of introductions superseded the depth of my interactions to a frightening degree.

Somewhere around that time a few things clicked for me.  I realized that I needed to get the hell out of India.  I needed to stop hanging out with people from work.  I admitted that there are a handful of people in this world whose friend I can never be. I was missing out on important family moments while in the company of people who didn’t merit my attention.  I wondered if I was happy and, if not happy, at least productive.  I unceremoniously de-friended people on facebook.  I called my grandmothers.  I phoned friends who I told myself I wouldn’t pester with my problems.  And I packed up, went to Nepal, and had a ball with two women I barely knew.

Well traveled and more worldly, these two really breathed new life into my purpose for being in India.  My idea of a good Saturday afternoon? Hearing honest stories of broken hearts, physical trauma, sensible love, personal triumph, and assured convictions in tea houses over looking centuries old pagodas. There was shopping and normalcy.  No talk of work or professional antagonisms.  There was a therapeutic exhale over ex-boyfriends, followed by facebook stalking of crushes, and discussion of global moves yet to come. Oh, the possibilities of double dipping two single serving friends! 

Not only was Nagarkot and Bhaktapur worth the trip to Nepal, but a Sunday in the Garden of Dreams resurrected the hope that friendships and relationships can be committed, but not so rigidly defined.  They can be location specific and still valuable.  And perhaps there is a term between friend and acquaintance that can better describe all the great people I have come to meet and know here.  These people who have shown me the ropes and exposed me to the wonders of this city. They who have come over to set up my t.v., bring me jolof rice, crash in my extra bedroom.  They who make home feel less like the only place on earth where I am understood.  They who share their stories sincerely, open their homes willingly, dance ‘til their feet hurt weekly and press me to address my moody interest in people daily.

Now that I’ve reflected on it long enough to choose a very deliberate direction at this fork in the road, I must say it’s a wonder that anyone hangs out with me at all.  It’s a pity for my friends that they are my friends at all.  I have personalities that aren’t split, but definitely Siamese conjoined at the nape of the neck, hence always divided of mind and predictably facing different directions.  All things being equal, I would have to say that I hide it well most of the time.  I host events.  I drop by shindigs I am invited to.  I offer to have tea.  Often.  But, I have always struggled with uninvited guests, one-on-one events that transform into group events, feigned intimacy, and fake distance.  I am a ratchet failure at these awkward, uncontrolled moments of social proximity that one must endure when the boundaries are uncertain and titles don’t send clear expectations.  Yet, I keep meeting new people who I keep calling friends.

I struggle with what this means for all my real friends at home, the loyal ones who know all my deep dark secrets.  And I struggle with what this means for a time beyond today, when social acquaintances and friends won’t look so strikingly similar.  I wonder if they’ll tolerate me when they realize all my quirks and idiosyncracies, when I move out of this house I don’t own, and go back to my one bedroom in the hood.  I wonder if they’ll understand my trust issues and if our friendship will withstand fleeting social pulses.

I wonder if they notice how they challenge me to fight my nature and inspire me to be unabashedly human.  Maybe it was the Brene Brown TED talk or the fact that I’m growing less self-conscious about my ability to be hurt and my need to love, but I’ve got Tyler Durden in my dreams whispering, “Fuck what you know. You need to forget about what you know, that’s your problem. Forget about what you think you know about life, about friendship, and especially about you and me.”

I know he’s right, don’t know who ‘you’ is, and am struggling to find a better way to say that India and I have unfinished business. Thank God for second chances.

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