A couple nights ago I was drinking (I’m not sure what, but it may have been that lemon vodka/7 Up/orange juice combo I invented, you’re welcome), and I woke up the next day to an email confirming my membership in a Meetup group that said something about single lesbians.
I sat straight up in bed. “Aaaaahhhh!” I shrieked to no one in particular. I wasn’t ready for this!
I’m not sure how long I planned on tiptoeing around my neighborhood in a black leather jacket and sunglasses and not talking to anyone, like Sara Quin on a bad day, but perhaps drunkenly signing up for this group was what I needed to push my ass out the door.
Social anxiety is rough, guys.
The thing is, I used to be good at making friends. I never thought of myself as socially awkward. I never felt the urge to sprint in the opposite direction when faced with the possibility of talking to a stranger. But now, especially now that I live alone, I find that the existential problem of me against the big, bad world is not a joke, and I would say it’s completely possible, even preferable for me to never set foot outside my own apartment all winter except to go to work and buy groceries, unless one of my preexisting friends comes over and drags me out to a bar.
A couple weeks ago, for example, I told myself I had to check out that feminist bookstore across the street, stay in there for at least 15 minutes, and then afterwards get myself coffee at one of the maybe 10 cafes within a 2-block radius. Yes. I could do this.
I walked into the bookstore, avoided making eye contact with anyone, crept along the back wall so the cashier wouldn’t attempt to talk to me. (Are you serious, Jenny? Yes, yes I am.) My mind was racing to hard that every back cover I tried to read turned into alphabet soup. In the end I escaped with a free pamphlet of upcoming activities in the neighborhood. (As if I’ll ever attend one! Ha.) I then proceeded to pick up a latte at Starbucks and practically run back to my apartment to drink it. I didn’t even notice if there were any cute girls out. I was too busy freaking out under my breath. When I got home I took a hard look at myself in the mirror and muttered, “Jenny, you suck.”
Last night I was faced with the prospect of a Friday night without plans. Believe it or not, this hasn’t happened yet since the move. But because I know it’s going to happen again, I need to get accustomed to entertaining myself. You couldn’t pay me enough to go to a bar alone. What did I do? Had leftovers for dinner, dyed my hair, assembled a floor lamp, did laundry. Oh, and I also watched reruns of How I Met Your Mother and went to bed at a reasonable hour. What the actual fuck.
But I give myself credit because I also did something else: walked into that bookstore again and actually bought a book (called Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – it’s all the rage right now). My conversation with the cashier:
Her: Oh, that’s a great book! Are you buying it for the book club this Sunday?
What I should have said: Oh, there’s a book club? Tell me more! (It’s not like I’ve been stalking your website and deciding whether or not I can read a book in 2 days flat…)
What I actually said: No.
Her: Oh…..Well, it’s still a great book to have!
Me: Thanks, have a good night.
See? I’m just that awesome. Not. This shit happens to me all the time, I swear.
My plan today is to drive to the beach and start reading said book. Who knows, maybe I’ll manage to finish it by tomorrow. (I was an English major. I can’t, like, come to class unprepared.) If not, there’s another event tomorrow that I’m pretty sure I’m going to force myself to go to – a thing for the Meetup group I signed myself up for, at a bar that is in my backyard. There are already 22 people going, so I’d be an idiot to miss this. I’m shaking and rocking myself in a corner just thinking about it, but, you know, I’m gonna do it. And that’s why I’m posting about it today – so that if I don’t go, I’ll be accountable to all my readers. Yeah.
Side note on Meetup groups: I’m slightly bothered by the descriptions of some of the other lesbian meetup groups that I did not join. Some of them allow cis women only (I find this offensive), and some literally post the dictionary definition of lesbian: “No queer/questioning women, no bisexual women please….This is not an LGBT group.” All I can say is wow. Judgy much? Is “Currently a lesbian” enough? When I read things like that I have another mini-heart attack over my sexuality. What even am I? I don’t know. It isn’t enough that my family doesn’t quite take me seriously and my friends say “Actually I think you’re bi.” It’s exhausting enough going through the process of coming out to yourself. It’s even more exhausting having to prove yourself while coming out to others. I’m still waiting for the English language to invent a word that means “a female who is attracted to females” without comment on her attraction, past or future, to members of other genders.