community · desire · fear · lack · learning · science

Moving the water-cooler.




I was at dinner with a friend on Tuesday
night, election night. And she was dispirited by how little she’d gotten to
talk with anyone about the election, the issues, what’s going on in our area.
That it’s just not the water-cooler chatter that’s around her. That there’s a part of her
intelligence that doesn’t feel fueled and fed in the current iteration of her
I replied that I knew precisely how she felt. That there are
conversations I don’t have any more on an intellectual level, not just by being
out of school, but by being out of the groups who talk about topics that make
me think (beyond the emotionally intelligent conversations I can have until the
sun burns out).
I told her there was an informal dinner a friend from grad
school hosts every Wednesday, and how for 2 years now, I continue to get his
weekly invitations. I haven’t gone once.
Well, that’s not true. I went once, with an ex, and he felt
awkward, so it was awkward, and we left. But I have a feeling that dinner’s one
source of the higher conversations I want to have.
Meanwhile, this morning I get a text from a friend saying
it’s her annual birthday party this Saturday. She’s the founder of a non-profit
that provides medical birthing supplies to women in Africa, and has visited
more times than I can count. I can see from my text history that she invited me
last year, and the year before, and I still haven’t gone.
My friend at dinner on Tuesday night challenged me to accept
an invitation to events like these. To go, to meet, to talk, to learn, to be sparked. To
see if there’s a level of conversation I can have beyond my normal scope.
I haven’t wanted to go alone. But that’s usually the best
way to meet people. And so, today, this morning, I replied that I
would be at my friend’s birthday party this weekend.
I can’t attend the Wednesday dinners at the moment because
of rehearsal, but I promised my Tuesday friend I would go after they finish.
It’s not that these opportunities aren’t available. It’s
that I’m scared to go. Scared I can’t keep up. That I don’t know enough. My Tuesday friend told me we both know enough to have *some* kind of a conversation about anything, and she’s right. 
There are science lectures I want to attend at Cal. I have wanted to
sit in on classes there for a long time. Maybe it’s different from a party
that’s social, and I’ll want to bring a wingman, someone to discuss it with
afterward or — and here’s my real desire — I’ll meet people there who will want to grab tea afterward and discuss it, our own little study group of lecture-junkies.
I’ve written before about wanting to seek out conversations
and friends and classes that will again spark the kind of thinking I miss
so terribly; that in the absence of such conversation, I begin to feel stagnant
and short of my potential. I know I’ve hemmed and lamented about it
before, but maybe, with this one Yes for this weekend, I’m changing the
direction of my action. 

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