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people who need people 1

September 4, 2013

In the last four years, I’ve utilized 24 different methods for meeting new people; I’ve interacted with approximately 300 new people. I made connections with 18 people, and with each one, I hoped someday we might be friends. I’m still in contact with 3 of those people, and one of them may become my friend, in time. But these numbers do not, have not encouraged me. (Even Spouse was surprised at how stark the numbers are.)

Because Spouse is the person he is — our family histories tantalizingly close, but then also chasms apart — he’s been encouraging me not just to act more like him, but think like him. This would mean adopting his avoidant attachment style — discarding any hope that new people, no matter how intriguing, might be friend material. Perhaps even “consoling” myself, as he has tried to, by telling me, “you just don’t have very good people skills. And most people aren’t going to like you. It’s not fair, but that’s just how it is.”

Technically, it’s indisputably true that “most people” probably don’t have strong feelings about me one way or another . . . but I’m never going to meet most people. There are, what?, 8 billion human beings in the world right now. I haven’t met most of them. If we count nonhumans as people, there are uncountable trillions, gazillions. I won’t meet most of them either.

It’s also true that, of the human beings I have met, the majority don’t seem to be interested in getting to know me better. Which is actually fine with me. I like people, but I’m an introvert. I require a lot of “solitary” time (often outside/in Nature). Being around other human beings can be exhausting — there are so many rules and conventions that I don’t begin to understand.

But if I really felt, deep down, that Spouse’s schema fit the world better than what I’ve been trying to do, I would jump off a bridge right now. I cannot be myself

and live like that. That wouldn’t be living at all. I . . . have to be . . . embedded in a dense network of relationships.

That dense network, for the last four years, has been mostly-nonhumans + Spouse + books + art + writing.

Spouse is clearly quite different from me, so even though I know he’s honestly trying to help me feel better, his advice . . . can’t be made to fit my situation.

+++

Still, in the beginning of my week at Ghost Ranch, I was telling people I met that I “apparently have lousy people skills”. A particular person that I regularly ate with pulled me aside and told me I was being too hard on myself; that my people skills were perfectly adequate. And by then, I agreed with her!

All week, I spoke to anyone who caught my fancy, whether they were part of my writer’s retreat, or not. If I didn’t find them congenial, I made my excuses and I left. But that rarely happened. Even people I didn’t feel were ‘my kind of person’ (whatever that might mean) were interesting to talk with. I quickly found a small group of people I really liked.

But I continued to seek out other people at least sometimes — I was only going to be there a week. Maybe I’d never see some of these people again, so why not talk to them when I had a chance?

By Sunday, I had had brief-and-ordinary conversations with 25 AROHO women and 2 Ghost Ranch staffers; I had in-depth/personal/meaningful conversations with 32 AROHO women and 3 non-AROHO people. (60 people in all.)

And I consider five of these women my friends.

+++

I haven’t been blogging, because I’ve been writing letters to friends.

It’s so odd to find myself writing letters that I actually mail. And then getting responses! There are people now that actually look forward to hearing from me!

The week before the retreat, I was in Socorro, visiting an old friend who’s lived there for three years (but she’s lived lots of other places, and probably won’t settle long-term in New Mexico).

Of the new people I met last month, I have a friend in Albuquerque for the first time in 30 years ever; I have a friend in a little town in New Mexico I’ve never been to. One friend is in Texas, the city my sister lives in (that I’ve never visited). One friend is in Hawaii — despite having cousins living there for most of my life, I’ve never been there either. The fifth friend lives close enough to Maryland that we could (relatively easily) visit each other.

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