Sobering Up

Truth - There's no way that you can ever fully be prepared for the real world. We live in bits and pieces of it as we move through life. No one actually gets to experience it in its entirety. The little sliver though that we do get to live through is more than enough. Each day we enter and exit different parts of the microcosms that make up their terrifyingly beautiful world. It's a great big world out there. It asks us to figure it out but never stays the same. You know those nights that people talk about having hit the bottle a little too hard, that's how life can be sometimes; stumbling through the dark, slightly intoxicated. This is sobering up.

 "The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love"
William Sloane Coffin Jr.

To be quite honest, I don't quite comprehend how people make friends outside of college. It's now that I'm out of my little universe(ity) that I realize how facilitated the experience is even when you have exorbitant amounts of freedom. There was always something to gather around whether it be a location, food, common interest, or cause. At the end of your day we were in college and we could at least talk about classes, schoolwork, or just the general experience of being where we were. It's been just under two weeks since I ventured back home to suburbia and I haven't been out much. Somehow I find myself struggling to bring that version of myself who had grown up, wasn't scared all the time particularly of other people, and has this finesse for talking to strangers. Now I'm back to my socially awkward, quiet voiced, perpetually nervous self. Maybe it was the change in location or the overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by brand new people, whatever it is I need to figure it out fast. I did it before and have to do it, whether I'm feeling it or not. Time to sober up.

It's when I'm home that I realize how serious my introverted nature really is. I'm totally okay with not leaving the house for a few days on end and may leave just to walk down to the mailbox. I've occupied my time with the usual suspects, namely, Netflix, TV on Demand (children's TV only), and Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. It's such a drastic change from the constant chaos of having my phone constantly inundated with text messages, notifications, and vibrations. I kind of like it and then realize I should probably socialize every two to three days or so. And here begins one of my classic "me" stories. Last Friday I hit up one of my closest friends from high school, Katelyn, and mustered up the gumption to reunite. Our dinner was cancelled and everyone knows I'm still adjusting to the whole idea of "going out" but I pushed myself. I said YOLO and prepared for a long night of epic antics. I showered, and struggled for half an hour figuring out what was socially acceptable to wear. Shirt after shirt I ironed, and I even ended up packing a back of other things to wear and other toiletries as if I was going on a trip. This is what happens when I go out. Brace yourselves, it's a good one.
Making my way downtown ... but seriously, I made my way down to Cincinnati and pulled up to Katelyn's. I hadn't seen her since last summer and our reunion was long overdue. Inside we went and immediately I was indoctrinated into her world of college and real world work friends. Much like her, her friends were all kindhearted, playful, and endearingly quirky - what else would I have expected. Immediately all my nervousness was gone as I quickly made friends with Erin and Zach who I would be joining for the night. We walked a few blocks trading quips, antagonizing one another, and discussing our nonexistent love lives before dropping in to a bar. It was loud and jam packed full of dudes who were hardcore mean-mugging us like we were locals on their turf. As always, I downed a ginger ale and we took in the scenery before loading up into my car and heading to the heart of the Cincinnati. My ridiculously nostalgic shuffled playlist served as the backdrop as we weaved our way through the criss-crossing streets. We parked I the Great American Ballpark garage and ascended to Katelyn's friend Beth's apartment. Water for me and alcohol for everyone else as we got a little looser, with more air drums, imaginary guitars, and make-believe microphones to the sounds of Taylor Swift, 8th grade teen angst, and 90s throwbacks. More people joined the fun and I tracked myself being okay with not knowing everyone. I was fine. Everyone was having a good time and it was lowkey. Maybe it was just me but while everyone else was getting more intoxicated there I was sobering up, perpetually.

Back into the night we went and split off into separate groups. Katelyn and I ventured to this joint called the Tin Roof where a live country band was strumming up something fierce. I met one of her friends from work and despite being surrounded by tons of people I had a good time. Yeah it may have been hot, the floor sticky, and people kind of pushy but I didn't feel too out of place. I guess for me it's all been in my head. I think I imagine myself to be seen as younger than I actually am and until I let go of that mentality, I'll just keep doubting myself. We drove through some traffic, mind you it's 1AM, and past us flew so many different people. Wild for the night they all came, dressed to the nines or something like that, and raring to go. We parked and braved the crowds of slightly to heavily inebriated twenty-somethings and older folk. In we went to this sleekish bar, Japp's, to catch back up with Erin, Zach, and Beth along with a whole other crew of people. I sat making conversation with the new friends as they came and people watched as they went. It as awesome just to be able to be a fly on the wall of sorts and see how people function, or at least try to in this highly social situation. Eventually we were all tasked with being Zach's wing-people after Erin peaced out; he was an easy sell but an even funnier one to mess with in doing so. 2:30AM rolled around and it was time for me to head out. I had already seen a few too many people that I used to know (and in a city of 300K+) the odds were way too slim. Home I drove but not before stopping in to grab a burger and fries from my favorite place, Steak 'n' Shake. I hit my bed by 4AM and passed out, well sobered up.

Knowing that I can do the whole brave new world thing, especially the night life part, is huge for me. Figuring out what makes me uncomfortable is also so very important particularly since I'll be doing this all my by myself in two weeks or so. I had a wonderful time with Katelyn and thoroughly enjoyed her friends. They all were so welcoming and easy-going. Erin and Zach definitely made a lasting impression with their dance moves, witty banter, and nonchalant attitudes. I'm able to make friends, have worthwhile conversations, and strike them up with random people if I relax a bit more. Now I know why people drink. My uptight nature and general anxiousness with unplanned, well anything, doesn't help in these situations. Trusting myself to be smart, safe, and conscious but also open, approachable, and fun is what I'll have to keep working on. I'm sobering up, and the world may not be so big or scary after all. X


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