Sunday, July 29, 2012

An update on my real-world friendships

Reblogged from Choosing Pancakes
That was me whenever I thought about my post-grad life before graduation and for my first few weeks of living in this city. I was stressed out about how I've never made a friend out of anything but proximity (and forcibly inserting myself into the life of a person whom I think is cool, evidently, which evidently has worked in the past) and I didn't understand how to bridge the gap between meeting people and befriending them. 

...Soooo I'm still making friends out of proximity, haha. This time, proximity being my office. I went to Jazz in the Gardens at the sculpture gardens near the National Archives with some people from work (none of whom I actually knew very well) and met a fellow Princetonian who works in another department! I've gradually been making more and more social visits to my work friends' offices and convincing people that eating alone in their offices when there are literally 300 other hungry people nearby is just silly. This culminated in me hosting a dinner party at my house on Wednesday night. Eight girls from my office--the five that I'm closest to and three that I didn't actually really know, all went to the grocery store with me after work to pick up the ingredients for shrimp fettuccine and cooked and ate and laughed and were merry together. They fawned over my house, too. (Side note: everyone keeps doing that. It makes me really happy.) And afterwards, about half of us went to this little...park is a strong word...more like vacant grassy lot near the office where they show outdoor movies on Wednesday night and watched The Incredibles. One of the girls, whom I hadn't known super well, baked ninja-shaped Incredibles cookies, complete with the red icing and little yellow i's on their chests. It was ADORABLE. 

I am now friends with three of them on Facebook and have one's number. She texted me on Friday night to see if I'd be interested in doing a singles "events and adventures" group with her...uh, duh. So, these developments excite me. 

I've also been hanging out with a decent number of Princetonians: most notably RG, but I've also seen AM once and will see her again Tuesday along with some other 2011s. I went to a concert with DA two weeks ago. I finally saw BK at the Princeton Club of Washington Nationals baseball game event last Sunday, and met/hung out with a Black 2010 guy I hadn't known before (who is unfortunately only in town for the summer). I had dinner with one of my assistant activities chairs from Quad last night (and learned that Ethiopian food is delicious). RP is in town on business for the next few months Mon-Thurs, and I saw her last week and will hopefully see a lot more of her over the next few weeks. MJP was here last week with her program, and when FS was here for the 4th, I saw him, too.

And in all of that hanging out, something has occurred to me: there is something incredibly refreshing about spending time with people who already know you, even if you aren't particularly close. I don't feel like I'm putting on a show for the new friends I'm making in DC or anything--even when I'm socializing with my work friends, I feel like I'm being myself. But still, I am ever in the process of introduction with them, I suppose. It's more stories and backtracking, more "a friend of mine from college" instead of "[name]". It's as if I'm demonstrating who I am and what I'm about, rather than simply living and breathing it like I can with people who already have some established sense of those things. The familiar feeling, combined with the catching up, reminds me that I didn't leave myself behind in all the changes of late. It is wonderful to literally bring the past into the present and watch it still fit. 

(I get to do this to an even higher extent next weekend: TN is coming to stay for two days! This also involves me taking my first paid-time-off day. I feel so fancy. Like, what, I'ma not come to work and you're gonna pay me like I came? What is this awesome world?)

But before you're all, "Omg, Maya, you're living the dream!", I have a confession to make. I'm unsure about the placement of that comma, and my post-college social network is beginning to look a lot like my pre-college social network. For those who aren't familiar with Maya of olde, this means that RG is the only non-White person I'm consistently spending any time with. Also, to the best of my knowledge, everyone I've spent time with is straight. And I don't really know how to remedy either of these issues. My housemates are White, my office is Vanillaville with a spattering of Asian/Indian, and though I know some of the other black recent Princeton grads in the city, RG is the only one I was close to in college. I came to rely on communities of people of color and a collection of individuals who fall outside of normative heterosexual boundaries during my time at Princeton, and I am fiercely adamant that those are not communities that I want to lose. I joined a couple of Meetups for women of color and/or Black women in the DC area and those for LGBT folks in the area, so hopefully some sense of community will come out of that, but from my experience at the Live Soul meetup for Musiq Soulchild, I'm scared that that crowd might be considerably older. So if anyone has any suggestions on that front, I'm all ears. 

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