As the year concludes I'm working on a piece called "Getting Divorced is a Pain in the Ass," which I hope to read aloud in San Francisco late next month. It still needs a lot of work, but I am pleased to say that the title is extremely accurate. I've already taken to calling 2009 the "lost year," with hopes and expectations that 2010 and all the years to come will be much better.
One theme of the piece will be of my need for instant personal connections, which has always been with me and never more so than this year. In middle school my friend Melissa Higby commented on my tendency (which would be more useful if I had an interest in becoming a politician) to say hello to everyone as I walked the halls. Apparently this had the unintended effect of stopping the flow of traffic!
When I left NYU in 2007, the libary director told me that I had the "gift" of connecting with all kinds of people throughout the organization, which was a "real treasure." At UCSF I've tried to be friendly with everyone, and 2.5 years later I feel that I've developed stature within the library both because of and beyond my title.
All of this is good (and amusing, in the case of my middle school days.) But in the personal realm, my need for connection--instant, like coffee--can be off-putting. This year the divorce left me hungering for new connections, but without sufficient skills to let them grow naturally. This was true for friends and romantic partners alike. I'd find someone cool, glom onto them obsessively, and in some cases push them away. Most people--at least most adults--are much more guarded as they are getting to know someone. I've never been good at this, and this year my barometer of what was appropriate was way off.
But 2010 is a new year, and I know my life will be remarkable going forward. Lessons learned:
- Date more casually.
- Friend more casually.
- Remember that I have a lot to offer in any kind of relationship, friendship or otherwise.
Instant connections are compelling but fleeting. From here on out I'll have the patience to wait for the real thing.