Sparkles has this idea involving me, a millionaire (she sometimes makes him Irish to make me happy) and horseback riding. She wants this to happen quite a bit. So when the landlords said they had a horse thing coming up that needed volunteers and I might like to come and talk to people while volunteering, I said great!
Now, a little background. I am not totally ignorant. I am not my youngest sister Minx, who got on a cranky horse, dropped the reins and took off yelling “HOW DO YOU STEER THIS THING?”. I know you don’t get behind a horse, yank on it’s reins, wave things in the corners of its eyes, etc. I know how to stay on, and I know the theory of posting, though the practice utterly eludes me. I enjoy riding, when I’m on a cooperative horse, and I understand what people refer to generally when they do the basic horse talk. But I am not a Horse Girl.
But hey! I like volunteering! I like horses! I like physical labor! And I won’t be riding so I won’t be shaming myself in front of people! And it would make Sparkles so very very happy if I could write a post about meeting a nice boy while volunteering with horses. So.
Friday night some friends had a housewarming party. It turned into a slumber party (a descriptor which I feel they would decry, as the idea was just to keep drunk people from driving). Everyone was up incredibly late. We two girls were up even later due to the thing that happens where the lights go out when you’re spending the night at a strange place and suddenly you feel the urge to talk about boys. I was up till somewhere between 4 and 5 in the morning. And woke up around 8, though I dozed till 10. Saturday I was out late with friends, and I didn’t sleep well due to drama (it twists my stomach so I can’t sleep), but I figured I could sleep in Sunday and make up for it.
I wake up at eight in the morning to knocking on my door. Landlords are going, here’s the directions! They seem slightly surprised at my crumpled, bleary-eyed wild-haired appearance. But I recover and say I’ll catch them up. I shower, brush hair and put on appropriate for horses but still nice looking clothing, and wish my boots hadn’t fallen apart. And off I drive.
And drive. And drive. It’s a fair bit further away than I thought.
Eventually I get there. Aaaaaand….meet lots of middle aged people! By lots I mean maybe 10 through the course of the day. As it turns out volunteers at these events aren’t actually there to do anything. The worry is that sometimes things go wrong. And with horses, things going wrong gets very wrong very fast, so they want to have people on hand in case of something like a beehive under a jump stinging all the horses. So they want volunteers, not to actually do anything, but just in case everything falls to pieces. So I had nothing to do. But sit. And listen to middle aged horse people talk. About horses. Which, as I’ve said, I understand, but I’m not an avid horse person, so I don’t care enough to be a useful contributor to such conversation. I couldn’t even take comfort by making grass whistles because I didn’t want to scare the horses.
My most exciting conversation-AGAIN-was about the various fibers that are fun to spin. Iam really beginning to think I am capable of nothing social but old-ladying.
The upshot? Well, I’m getting younger. At least this was middle-aged, not downright old! And it was a lovely day to sit outside on. But by the end I was almost hoping for a beehive just to give me something to DO. So, alas for poor Sparkles, I guess her horseback riding with Irish millionaire plan will have to wait a little while longer.
I never wanted to travel outside the US. Left on my own I would happily have just taken all my vacations in Maine. But my first summer of law school, I needed something to fill the summer and wasn’t finding internships that interested me. And there was this study abroad in Ireland program. God seemed to think it was a good idea, as did everyone around me. And it would save me from a internship I wasn’t interested in. And I did like Irish folklore……
Long story short, I went. Best decision I ever made. I got there and instantly felt like I had found something I’d been looking for all my life. I fell in love. The whole time I was there I felt like the country was whispering to me and that if I listened hard enough, I would understand. I wanted to lie down and grow roots into the earth, float off into the ocean and fly off the cliffs. I dream that one day I’ll be able to move there and be a barrister there.
I know its an impossible dream, but hope springs eternal. So just in case one day a miracle happens, I started listening to Pimsleur Irish a while back. Mum suggested I take classes too, and I thought she had a point; easier to practice with someone real to talk to. And a good place to start meeting people.
So I called the number on Mum’s link. Magically a beginner’s class was starting the next day! Did I want to register?
I gulp nervously, thinking of my utter lack of linguisitic ability. But meeting people requires risk! I must be bold! “Yes, that would be great!” I chirp into the phone.
So come Wednesday. Class is at 6:30. I fuss and choose pretty clothes to wear to work, so I will make a nice impression. I pack a notepad to take notes, an irish dictionary and a granola bar to have for dinner, since I’ll be going straight from work to class.
Get to work. It’s One Of Those Days. Everything is all due that day, none of it is finished, and we spend all day rushing around desperately trying to finish the unfinishable. As the day wears on, I can feel my heart sinking. Two of these things are projects I’m working on. I know the memo needs more work, but I’m frantically trying to finish the discovery, and know I won’t even be able to finish that until 5 or 6. And there’s still exhibits to be done. I may not even be a lawyer yet, but I know what that meant for my plans.
But hope springs eternal. So I worked like a lunatic all day, literally running around the office as I rushed to finish. Magically project 1 was finished at 5:45. Memo needed work, but was slightly less urgent, and I’d told them about my class, so they agreed that I could go to class and memo from home later in the night. Free as a bird off I rushed to the Place Of Irish, where I would instantly be sprinkled with four leaved clovers by handsome young irish men and would be instantly clasped into the arms of my brilliant new friends and carried off to ireland.
This dream was only slightly tarnished by the fact it was on a dilapidated street right after a wal-mart and a gas station. But boldly I parked! And boldly I stayed in the car, hiding until I saw someone else around! Finally an old lady came. She had learning Irish books in her hand so I got out of the car and walked over to her to see if she was there for class.
She was. But she’d tried the door and it was locked, so we’d have to wait outside. While waiting, she told me all about her inability to trace her family geneology. In excruciating detail by explaining how many people there were with her great grandmother’s name and what each had done and how she could be sure some of them weren’t her great grantmother. This was interspersed with useful information like that she was repeating the class. And also learning Hungarian. Needless to say I was quite thankful when the teacher (a cozy looking older woman) came to open the door.
In we went. The club smelled….familiar in a way I didn’t recognize. We all sat down: me, Hungarian lady cozy teacher and cd wielding man. We were soon joined by another older woman who seemed very nice. They handed out books, and I pulled out my knitting and asked if I could knit. The teacher agreed, and newest arrival started talking knitting and pretty soon we were all having a cozy little gossip about knitting, spinning, and the fun of combining alpaca and merino and a tiny bit of silk. We went on to class. It wasn’t very good. We listened to the cd pronounce the words, we read the conversations the book said to read, and then we closed with everyone discussing what irish counties their families were from, and how they were tracing their geneologies. Everyone but me. I said Waterford, which I know, but that I hadn’t bothered to read my geneology. They were horrified. No good for socializing. Not very good for learning Irish either. But I’ll keep going back because you can’t learn a language alone.
The upshot? I am, apparently, a little old knitting lady. Oh dear.
Next time? I volunteer with horses!
I just finished law school. I had never been happier. I loved my school, I loved my teachers, I loved my fellow-students (ok, I loved most of them. It was law school and I am not a saint) and I loved learning the law and playing with all the ideas. I didn’t want it to end and I didn’t want to leave. But there was the bar to occupy my time. So all summer I studied for the bar, worked to pay rent and stayed on with the ACLU just because I loved it. And that was, if not fun, okay too, because we were all suffering together in that hell that was bar.
But now it’s over. And I find myself working full time. I know I’m one of the lucky ones: I have work, it’s legal work, I work for a nice lawyer, and I’m okay. And he lets me have a day each week to work at the ACLU as long as I work 10 hour days the other days of the week. But now? I sit alone in an office, all day. I’ve never worked in a small office before, I’ve always worked in places with lots of other employees. I like it that way, it keeps you from getting to be what I am now: lonely.
My friends are disappeared. Two moved in together and moved to further away. So where when one of us would want to hang out they would call the others and we’d all hang out, now I suspect they are happy enough the two of them that the extra effort seems unwarranted, especially in light of the distance. So I see them when I go to the ACLU. Essentially, I have one day a week to be a normal social person, during which I go to the ACLU (which is always full of fun and interesting people) work all day there then hang out with my friends afterwards. Which is great for the one day, but means that I spend the rest of the week alone and lonely.
I want more. I want people to talk to, I want friends, and I want romance
So, the question becomes, what is a friend and how to I find them? It’s not easy. I make friends slowly, and I find that I am rarely initially attracted to the people who make the best friends, and am frequently initially attracted to the people who turn out to be nuts. For instance, my dear friend Sparkles. When I first met her, I looked her up and down once, concluded she was a dangerous, insincere cheerleader type ala Mean Girls, and resolved to avoid her. She took one look at me and promptly forgot I existed until talk like a pirate day when she first remembers meeting me. (This is not true. She talked very nicely and friendlily to me despite my utter lack of encouragement. She just doesn’t remember meeting me until pirate day). The coach made us debate partners. We spent a year becoming friends and learning to work together well, and the rest is history.
Sparkles also destroyed my previous ideas of what sort of common interests are helpful to friendships. It is true that we both have geekery, but not that much in common. I like Firefly, she likes Star Trek. I like fantasy, she likes trashy romance. We’re friends because we can talk and understand each other, and because we have a lot of other things in common.
But I can’t just ignore initial attraction either! Because i have friends who I thought were awesome right from the start! Like my girl Ster. I saw her and I thought, wow, that girl is cool. She just looked like someone you could trust right from the start. And so she was (although a lot more than that, including one of the best that’s what she said joke makers I’ve ever met).
So the point is, friendship is complicated. And doesn’t fit into very good rules. I don’t know what I’m looking for, I just know that finding it takes time, luck, and the right situation. Not a lot to go on.
So I plan the following: I will go out into this world. I will try things and attempt to meet people and make friends. I will frequently fail. The plan will alter to fit the situation. The current plan: every other week at least, try a new group until I find one that suits. Tell the story about it here to make Sparkles happy.