Friday, August 22, 2008

don't tell mama

i suppose there's potentially something very wrong.

it's friday night (well, saturday morning). the night beyond these walls is alive with possibilities. the shake-that-ass pulsations of diluted rap. the textured stench of natty light and shwag. the promise of a tomorrow that will taste like piss and mistakes and almost memories.

and me? i'm sitting alone in my apartment, barely clad in wal-mart boxers, watching Mulan bonus features and consoling the void of conversation with my roommate's timid light beer.

the "potentially something very wrong" is how okay i am with this entire situation. i am, by many definitions, avoiding life, and i'm beyond content with it. in the saddest way i can think of, i'm the happiest i've been in a while.

that is not to say i've been a homebody all night. i spent the evening with Miguel, partaking in the heavy sauces and lifetime supply of sodium that pseudo-Chinese buffets have to offer, exchanging ineloquent pick-up lines that somehow work on this wordsmith (never underestimate the power of the right person telling you "aw, you're cute," even if it's said too often to be convincing), and mischievously opening the birthday package my mother sent too early. I got a regifted garlic press (which i'm surprisingly excited about) and the Mulan 2-Disc Special Edition. Apparently the only thing that makes this Mulan copy a "special edition" is its music video with Jackie Chan... which is totally enough to make any movie worthy of being dubbed "special."

Afterwards, I even "went out" for a spell. I hit up both Club Baby Seals and Emily Temple's abode and saw a lot of great people at both, but the truth is, I just wasn't up for the meet-and-greet-and-mingle game. the performance of interaction which is pre-scripted and fucking horribly written. i saw the probability of being nakedly sincere at either of these locations this evening very slim, so I decided to jet. I had the chance to see other people, to gain a lot of ground in the battle to not be forgotten, and i opted to spend the evening alone with no longer American beer and disneyfied feminism. some might see this is a slide into reclusion, but i celebrate it as a victory in growing up. no longer do i have to please everyone! no longer do i have to charm the pants off of people so that the people i love and the people i "love" aren't tempted to leave me. instead, i can spend some evenings at home digesting battle scenes, love stories, and historical inaccuracies.

i guess what i'm saying is i'm becoming more secure (in some aspects). i'm understanding more and more that i don't have to (and can't) please everyone, and I'm even okay disappointing and pissing off my friends every now and then. i do stand by sir Einstein's gem that "only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile," but you can't completely sacrifice yourself in the process. generosity is noble and necessary, but no one can really love a person who spreads himself so wide that he ceases to be a person. Expect a still thoughtful, still people-pleasing me, but one who is, hopefully, more confident, consistent, and himself.

My anxiety of the week, however, completely undermines every conclusion I've just drawn. I have a 21st birthday coming up on Tuesday, and I'd like to celebrate it with people. As I mostly find the party scene exhausting and shallow, a small dinner with friends sounds lovely. But I do not have the heart to narrow down the list to a few close friends; i'll leave people off the list who would expect to be on it, and they'll mildly resent me for it. This is the kind of bullshit that I stress out about. Not tests. Not major life choices. Pissing off the people who are supposed to love me.

The idea came to me of inviting not my closest Kirksville friends, but Kirksville people I know who intrigue me, who have great chemistry (either with me or another member of the party), and who could keep me engaged and amused through an evening of wine and spirits. I actually went so far as to construct this limited fantasy list of the ideal dinner party guests. It included:

Joanna Bess
Elaine Sokolowski
Julie Pincus
Jason Qualls
Grant Berry
Miguel Aguilar (to hold my hand and keep me safe through the sonant tempest, he and I offering a warm and tacit contrast)

Convince my friends Luke and Samantha from Columbia to go, and that’s one hell of a dinner party, stuffed with folks equipped to talk about anything for hours.

But that’s unrealistic. And it’s leaving out a lot of people who are terribly close to me (namely Molly and Matt) and others who I would love to see on such a day (namely all of you who read this blog). So, I have resolved to figure this out by Saturday night, or simply not celebrate my birthday at all. My prediction is, however, it will end up being a dinner out with 20 of my closest friends. I’ll get so busy playing host that I’ll stress myself out and need that steady stream of liquor to stay relaxed and jovial through the evening. And then I’ll still feel like I left somebody off the list and the familiar face of guilt will glare back at me, distorted, as moonlight on rippling lake.

I should go out tomorrow. Shake hands. See smiling faces. Love people I love. It’s not that I’m worried about them running away from me; I sincerely want to know them. And maybe it will make me less cynical/nervous about spending an evening with those I adore.

But for now, back to Jackie Chan.

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