Well, I have to say that of course there are good ones and bad ones, like everything else, but Meetup.com is the most amazing resource for finding a social network, as long as you’re willing to put yourself out there, interact with complete total strangers with an open heart, and let the poor fits roll off your back. (That is an excruciatingly tall order for a shy kid who also happens to be depressed, though I am getting so much better.) As long as those willingnesses are in place I highly recommend meetup, even if you’re not new in town but just want to turbocharge your social life, find new friends, or find a gang. I joined 15 meetups here in Austin in an effort to find a new social world and explore my interests with other people:
I’ve had one bad experience, with the knitting meetup (though perhaps I bear a responsibility too, since I was in the throes of the bleak black nonstop crying depression when I went), but otherwise it’s been a fantastic experience. Last Saturday I found My Gang, a bunch of wonderful, warm people who took me in as one of their own, who brunched with me, talked and listened to me, commiserated with me, gave me recommendations, held my hand and smiled at me, and danced with me. I can’t wait to see them again. I’ve never had a gang! I wasn’t that kind of kid. I was the kid with scabby knees lingering near the fence at the edge of the school grounds, with greasy hair and one book under her arm and another close to her face. With crooked glasses and unkempt hair. And a wholly terrifying back story, a secret horrible life at home. My only friend back then was the other school outcast, whose great sin was that she wore pantyhose in 5th grade — the thick beige kind, with snags and pills. Only teachers wore pantyhose, but Pamela (also referred to in gossipy whispers as “trash”) wore them too. So yeah, that’s the kid I was. And those kinds of kids don’t really have gangs. But now, at 54, I have me a gang hell yeah.
Last night I went to a happy hour that was only open to women, and DADGUMMIT Y’ALL those women were amazing. They were all mostly my age (this being a “boomer” meetup after all), and you get a buncha 50+ year old women together and whoo boy. It reminds me of a joke I’ve heard a few times, making fun of that trashy store Forever 21, which apparently sells kind of slutty clothes. The joke is that Forever 31 sells yoga pants and white wine. The women at the happy hour were not having any of it, they had already spent their lives taking care of men and children and parents, they knew wine and they read books, and they had opinions, dammit. Mercifully (and this is because I’m in Austin) they were of similar political mind to me, and the language was salty, the opinions were passionately shared, the book talk was relentless, and the lives were rich and fascinating. Lots of the women were new to Austin, some coming back like me, others coming from elsewhere in Texas, and plenty coming from other states. I sat next to Dee, who just moved here from Seattle, and found a kindred spirit. We chattered throughout the happy hour. I’m Comanche, she’s Kiowa (her grandparents came from Oklahoma, obviously). I met a woman who is also an 8th generation Texan (!) and we talked about injuns and rambling and history and roots.
It was so much fun.
Things have shifted inside me, and lest you think “gee, that was quick, in and out!” I think I’ve been deeply depressed for months and only just realized it, finally, when the nonstop crying started. All medications work quickly for me, which is a real treat (especially with antibiotics, hallelujah, and antidepressants). I’ve been able to read more of Parallel Lives, which I heartily recommend. It pulls you in with the first sentence, and paragraph, and a little later the writing feels denser, more Hungarian-translated. Perhaps, though, the difficulty is my temporary inability to focus very well (even my eyes can’t focus! fascinating) but it’s really got something worth sticking with. I can’t explain it well yet, maybe when the rest of the glass gets cleaned I can say it more clearly. I decided I wanted to own a hardback copy because it’s obviously a book that I’ll want to annotate and re-read, so luckily I found a brand new copy from another vendor through Amazon, for $9. With free shipping (since I’m a Prime member). That’s pretty good! When I can get more engaged with the book, I’ll say more but for now, I really recommend it.
Tonight I meet my gang at Pinthouse Pizza for conversation, pizza, and handcrafted beer. I really look forward to seeing them. It helps me enjoy the rest of my time alone, knowing that at some point I’ll be seeing people I can talk to, because you know the forks just don’t talk back. I’ve tried. They’re terrible conversationalists. “How the hell did you get in the refrigerator? What the hell?” I ask. They’ve got nothing.
Partly because the glass bottom boat is starting to gleam; partly because I actually have people to talk to when I want; and partly because, I think, I’ve grieved so intensely for the last three months that perhaps I’ve got it mostly done, I am feeling good in my quiet and peaceful home, on my quiet and peaceful street, in my busy and getting-rich life. Everything in this old world is multiply determined, so there are probably a lot of other factors in this, but I honestly don’t care why. I’m relieved to find some peace, and some happiness, and contentment with the solitude and pleasure with the social stuff. I’ve been a life-long member of the Overthinkers Club, and I’d really love to turn in my card if I could figure out how. Getting older helps, getting relief from depression helps, and learning acceptance helps too, learning that not much is really under my control.
Happy Thursday, everyone. I hope it’s a good day for you, with something wonderful that you don’t expect.
good thing of the day: people. people who need people. are the luckiest people. in the world. and i need y’all, real bad. 🙂