Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stranger in a Strange Land

Being in a new area is always a mixed bag. I'm happy to leave the South but I'm not as far north as I'd like. I'm excited to meet new people but I'm shy and it takes every ounce of energy for me to be social. I like the new job but I feel that constant fear that I'm somehow off track. Meh, I've come to expect these peaks and valleys when it comes to settling into a new place. Now my grey hair has added and additional kink- meeting people.

I am so happy to be in a place where there are a lot of people of my faith; I have a choice of churches to go to, I can meet a lot of other people with the same values, and there are actually young adult clubs for meeting new people. This would have been an ideal scenario 5 years ago- I would clearly belong in the 18-40 age group, I was much more of a joiner, and I had red hair. Okay, I STILL did not blend in with the Greeks but I did much more then than I do with silver hair. My theme music should be Iron Maiden (as it often is). See below:

Everyone dyes their hair in my faith- EVERYONE. The men, the women, the children. Eighty-somethings still sport jet-black hair and I never saw so many faux blonds in my life. I'm a bit more than an anomaly for not following this route, I'm an "xeni," or stranger. This is not exactly how I want to feel when I walk into a church and precisely why I went to a Young Adult League (YAL) mixer. I had met one girl that I knew was going but unfortunately she didn't get there until the speakers started. Sigh, I will have to be sociable.

I felt very different than I normally do. In my everyday life I don't think about my appearance. I feel polished as I'm wearing suits and colors that look good, I now always have the right red lipstick, my hair is as coiffed as I can manage, and all the DC walking is trimming me down. But when I walked into that mixer where even the Priest had a mere few silvers, I felt old. I talked to some girls who were my age, happily married and wanting to get out and make new friends. We would talk about the impact of religion on our lives and how nice it was that a group like this existed. Inevitably, they would get something to eat or drink in anticipation for a long series of lectures.

That is when I was left at a table with four young bo-- men. Scratch that- guys. The guy next to me was part of this gang of bo-- guys but looked over at me and introduced himself. Very polite and I'm sure his yia yia would be very proud of how well he was raised. He had just moved here so I asked if he was here for school. I assumed he was starting out at College yet this question slightly offended him. He proceeded to tell me he was doing graduate work. Okay, 15 or 25 what's the difference? He's perhaps slightly more than half my age rather than slightly less. He further clarified that he was working on his PhD.

Sigh. Apparently I am really bad about treating young people as well, young. I just figured he was being nice (he was the only person at the table that went out of his way to introduce himself) so I was nice back. At least I thought so. As the females returned to the table and as my young-ish acquaintance got something to drink another girl in her 30s sat down in his place. The lectures began followed by everyone in the room introducing themselves with icebreaker factoids about themselves, and one girl leaned over, "See? They met here at a mixer and they got married. You could be next!" "??!! Huh ??!!" was my shocked-into-silence response. Is that why people go to these things? Am I giving off a wrong vibe? Or is it more that they look at me and think I must be thinking that? I stewed over that for awhile, hopeful that no one witnessed this odd exchange.

At the end of the lectures I introduced myself to a few more people. I ran into my young-ish acquaintance and we talked for a bit about our mutual love of Tolkein. Finally I had someone who would listen to my theories on linguistics and what nation the Elves represent. He took one for the team. Yes, I took full advantage of his kindness and well-mannered polity. But let's face it, he wasn't even born when I was fighting my way at concerts to catch a guitar pick or touch Bruce Dickinson's sweaty hair, the spike leather cuffs, the spandex... Whoops! I'm back. Where was I?? See if you don't get Iron Maiden... can you really be my friend?

I kid (sort of) but the day was a new awareness for me. I went for one reason- to make a network of friends; to start the foundations of friendship so that whenever I went to a church I would have people to talk to. I found that I don't easily fall into a category anymore. I'm not young and I'm not old. I'm somewhat more of an xeni than before. It was somewhat awkward and I don't know if I'll go again. But the few people I talked to I hope to run into at some point and maybe a few friendships can arise after all.

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