Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lonely Bitch in the Big City

Everything will hit full stride bright and early tomorrow; general GSAS orientation begins at a mind-numbing 8:45, so that they can pull me from my bed and into an hour-long public commute before I've wiped the sleep from my lashes. To tell me about silly things like finding housing (check), learning your way around campus, ways to save money, and blahblahblah. And it's mandatory. Also, why did I think it would be really fun and health/energy conscious to walk a mile to the T, and then have to take that to the commuter rail, and then take that into campus? This is going to throw an extra forty-five minutes (each way) onto my daily routine. Ah well. I should only be going to campus thrice a week, so perhaps it will work out alright. My only hope about the big orientation in the morning is that I'll be able to cruise for cuties outside my program (cuz, well, that's a bit incestuous, dontcha think?). Of course, I'll be looking icky--sweaty, and still vaguely wet from showering. But what can you do?

My first waves of loneliness crashed today. I saw "Inglourious Basterds" alone (I'll review it tomorrow, because it is SO badass), and coffee-ed and read, and came home to my, as usual, empty apartment, had a smoke, crashed in front of the computer, and roused up some energy to cook dinner. Had a glass of red wine and another smoke, and then a very minor panic attack as I realized that this could very well be my life for however long it takes to make friends (that is, assuming anyone in Boston will put up with me at all). After all, that's been the routine every day since I moved in, with an occasional roommate-chat and a few drink-dates over the weekend with current grad students. I went to a little shindig on Saturday night, which was fun, but the fact of the matter is, I've moved into a pretty bustling city by myself and know no one on any satisfyingly complex or intimate level.

One of the grads I met up with is from Alabama, and she told me that she and her husband play a game...something you might call "Frighten a Bostonian," because they'll smile and wave, or say 'hi' to people they pass on the street, and count up how many people even acknowledge their existence. I played the game myself today, on the way back from the movie-ing, and got a single half-hearted smile in return. Everyone else looked away in fear, or returned with a vaguely challenging look of their own--like, 'who the hell are you to smile?' I love the city so far, I really do, but I think today was the first day where I really sensed the disconnect between me and, well, everyone else here. And I understand why you'd avoid strangers in a big city, but it was a bit of a 'culture' (?) shock, I suppose. A homeless man selling newspapers thanked me and told me to have a good day, just because I had said "no, thank you" to his offer of a paper--he thanked me for "acknowledging" him. And to some extent, it's a bit terrifying to think of going day in and day out without feeling like anyone will look you in the eye or try to connect with you.

I get on facebook, and see my friends posting about doing the fabulous, naughty things I used to do with them--nothing against them, I wasn't expecting them to don black veils for the next thirty years or anything like that (doooon't I?)--and nostalgia hits like a fucking deer against the car hood. I miss my dogs, I miss my sister, I almost crave an argument with my mom, and I want to get blackout with all my queens. It's natural to feel this way, I know this, and it will--I'm certain--pass over time, but nonetheless, I don't want to spend the next five years cooking for and by myself. I don't want to have to say "thank you" to someone for simply making eye contact with me. I don't want to not know who to turn to when I'm feeling down. I don't know why I'm sharing this on a public blog-perhaps just to air out my system? There's a certain level of self-pitying narcissism to any post like this, but I figure if I'm going to keep a blog purportedly aimed at updating people about my life in Boston, the good and the bad will each have their turn being exhibited for consumption.

In short, I'm tired. I don't want to get up before 7AM. And to the rest of ya'll who have recently abandoned the carrion of undergraduate existence, I'm with you on it all (because I've seen your blogs too).

Oh, and if anyone's into Fleetwood Mac, the song "That's Alright" is a nice cure for this sort of feeling. Well, not a cure--so much as a commiserating sort of song.

1 comment:

  1. Another really lovely post, Jamie. I feel you on the small panic attacks thinking, how long will I be cooking for one? That's why I like sending goodies through the mail (in addition to staving off my gluttonous ass from eating a dozen chocolate snack cakes [I was saved only by sending some out for a birthday]). I know I'm stressed when I turn to my comfort DVDs, watching the same episodes I've seen at least twenty times but finding the constancy a nice change from the quaking of establishing a new life in a new place.

    And I'm pro finding paramours outside of the department; otherwise you might end in one of the many broken marriages that littered the UVA English department. Imagine having to work with your ex's office right next door. shudder.

    I'm getting the other end of the "'culture'(?)" shock here: everyone is so goddamn nice and friendly that I get accused of being rude when I don't converse with the street people.
    Miss you, Jamie!