October 31, 2006

My Antarctica

On Saturday evening I went to The Hinsdale, one of two annual parties held at Architecture Hall, this one in honor of the “largest urinals west of the Mississippi” – the Hinsdale in the men’s restroom. Thought I’ve spent the better part of two and a half years in Arch Hall now, I’ve never attended one of the parties. Saturday was part of my ongoing campaign to be more social, to fit in. However, it now leaves me questioning the wisdom of that campaign.
I did not enjoy myself at the Hinsdale, though I tried. I arrived early, the traditional curse of the socially awkward. I was in costume, a generic ‘warrior woman,’ though not recognizable as any particular character. I smiled, I made eye contact, I said hello, and I spent the entire evening mentally begging someone to notice and talk to me. The one person who did was one of the girls from a year below me who at the time I did not recognize. She is one of those boisterous persons who tend to make me uncomfortable by their very act of never seeming uncomfortable themselves. Despite that, I was and still am grateful to her attention, fleeting though it was in the chaotic jumble of the party.
The capstone of the evening, when I finally decided this was not where I belonged, even after the fun of the toilet paper forest and the costume contest, was the young man passed out in the back hall on a vomit covered floor. I knew him, though he was not in my year. The professor with the duty of baby sitter had just come around the corner with a very concerned look, heading the opposite way, so I knew he was aware of the young man. The girls he had come with showed up very quickly with the returning professor, paper towels, and water and they took good care of him. I hurried on by, up to my studio to get my coat, feeling scared for him and upset for myself. I stopped on the way back to make sure they could get him home, but only lingered a few moments. I was glad to be gone from there, out in the fresh cold air where I could breath again (despite my tightly laced bustier) where it was blessedly quiet.
I think part of understanding my ongoing quest to be social must also be not only understand, but to accept myself. I need to be social on my own terms and in situations I find comfortable. When I am uncomfortable, nothing good will come of it no matter how many people I surround myself with. I must have compassion for myself in this and understand that I am not like other people and that is okay.
I have spent many years of my life ‘pretending’ to be something I was not: outgoing, caring, and positive. I have pretended so well that I have become outgoing, caring, and positive despite starting out reclusive, apathetic, and cynical. A person raised in Florida can eventually become used to Alaska, to such a degree that they don’t even notice the change.
I have found my own personal Antarctica, and no amount of acclimatization is going to help be comfortable there.

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