Sometime during the past 5 years, I have become more and more introverted and weird about meeting new people. It started with the telephone. First, I couldn’t answer the damn thing. Then, I stopped returning calls. I have written about this before. It’s a tired subject
– my fear of the telephone – so I’m not going to bore anyone with the details of my seemingly neurotic behavior.
Later, my fear of talking to people planted itself in my tangible life, too. I might be invited out. And in spite of the fact that I might know someone quite well, if there were a few whom I wasn’t familiar with, my palms began to sweat, the dizziness set in, and anxiety took control. If I was to meet people at a specific place, I had trouble entering alone. I have had people meet me outside, a block away, or, worse, come get me.
I’m a coward.
The truth is, I have no idea when that started or why for that matter. It’s frustrating. And over the years, I imagine I have missed out on quite a few wonderful gatherings.
Lately, I have been trying to stop this from happening. I have made efforts to reach out to those I haven’t seen or spoken to in quite some time. I have even arranged gatherings of people who normally wouldn’t have met. I guess one might say I’m trying.
About a week ago, I received an invitation from Sarah B., letting me know about a birthday celebration she was having. It was going to be held on a rooftop in Williamsburg. I looked forward to it. After months of failed attempts at meeting, I was finally going to be able to put a face behind the name. And then Saturday rolled around and the usual anxiety set it. I began to make excuses.
Maybe I shouldn’t go. What if someone asks me who I know there and I say no one, really and they ask me to leave? That would humiliating. I should stay home even if it is in my neighborhood. I don’t want to intrude.
Missy called from Chicago. I told her I was freaking out again. She told me to get over it and just go. She said I’d have a great time, that it’s a party. No one cares who knows who.
At 10 p.m. Toby and I headed over. At first, we had trouble finding the building. We walked up and down the street looking for the right place. We listened for roof noise and looked people. And then Toby stepped in dog shit. As one might imagine that didn’t go over too well. We both stood there with thoughts of giving up entirely. Both of us silently said the same thing; we should go home now. Then, people started to trickle up. A few words were exchanged about the apartment number and the next thing you know, we were walking up the stairs toward the roof.
In the end, the venture was totally worth it. I was not asked to leave and other internet-related friends showed up as well. I carried on conversations with new people and laughed about the rats of NYC, internet people who send hatemail, Wiener Dog showing up for her own rape, and Will Farrell. I also learned that vodka, lemonade and cheap beer all mixed together is actually quite tasty. Not only did we have the most excellent view of the city, but we found ourselves among kind people, too. And Sarah B. is everything I imagined.
Now, if only I could figure out a way to overcome my anxiety all of the time. I think I might enjoy life a bit more.