This isn't new. To catch you up, let's skip back about 8 -- no, wait, 9 -- years (geez!), back to when I had just decided I was going to attend Gonzaga University. I had to send in paperwork, telling them what I was interested in studying, where I was interested in living, who I was interested in living with. Biology B.S. or History B.A.? Small or large dorm? Morning person or night owl?
I opted to live in a dorm called Catherine-Monica. CM, as it was known, was old, slightly run down, and chalked full of students. It wasn't fancy: the rooms were the size of shoeboxes and the communal bathrooms were Pepto Bismal pink. Piping was exposed, and even as a naive 18-year old I knew if there was a fire, we were royally fucked.
It was awesome.
CM was as co-ed as Gonzaga got. It was two stories, and men lived on the bottom floor, ladies on the top. The doors locked at midnight (or was it ten?) and mingling after that could get you written up for intervis. It was four wings, forming a giant square, and you defined where you lived by direction. I lived in Southeast, the hall closest to the old soccer fields. Room 291, and I'm still close with my freshman roommate.
It was really awesome.
I chose CM because it was social. It housed over 350 freshman, and our class size was only a smidge over 900. Doors were always open, and rooms were too small to spend much time in. It was the party dorm, and had been for at least one generation, if not two. It was no Welch, the all-girl dorm near the center of campus, nor was one of the smaller dorms, like Crimont or Chardin, scattered around campus. It was the place to be, especially for me.
The conscience choice to select CM was a check against my inner introvert. When left to my own devices, I could spend quite a bit of time alone and not even realize it. I like people, don't misunderstand me, but I get tired after awhile. I knew, should I pick a small, intimate dorm for my freshman year, I'd be lost, even at a school the size of Gonzaga. I needed the party to be, literally, in my hallway, preventing me from sleeping. From reading. From studying.
I have so many happy memories at that dorm, and I can't believe how long ago it was. My college years went by fast, and, at the end, I was ready to move on. Life beckoned. The further away I get from them, however, the more longingly I feel. Maybe it was just the ability to drink without fear of a hangover or be a-okay running on 5 hours of sleep. More likely, and less cynically, the camaraderie in that dorm, on that campus, was unique.
I'm a bit older and living in Japan, far away from old Spokane. I'm married to a great man I met at Gonzaga. As much as I've grown up, I am, at the core, the same girl. I'm quiet. I can live inside my head for days.
I know, call it experience, that my isolation is self-perpetuating -- if I don't pull out of it, I can let it spin and spin and spin. I have to watch myself, simultaneously acknowledging my introverted personality while not letting it get out of hand, especially since people, I've found, can be fun. (Shocking).
I'm not always sure where to draw the line and where to say This is good for you and This isn't. That's what's funny about growing up and what no one really tells you: many times -- hell, most times -- there is no right answer. There is no white and black. If I am happy for hours reading books, watching television, going on runs, cooking, chilling with my hus, at what point do I break that routine? Get outside my comfort level? To what degree to do allow self-acceptance? When do you cut yourself off from The Wire reruns (holy shit, yo, they killed Prop Joe!) and grab lunch with people that you are almost-friends with now but who, in the near future, could be quite good friends?
As good as The Wire (or my book, or whatever) is, in the long run, relationships are the stuff that makes me happiest. Pursuing those are not might not always be my natural inclination, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't.
I'm learning to make those decisions more confidently. I think it's good that I like alone time; it certainly makes my time as an expat much easier. I know I need to be honest about what I really need, and sometimes, that's getting out of the house and grabbing coffee with friends and sometimes it's staying in and declining a get-together.
This week? I'm feeling quiet, a little introspective. I think that's okay. Especially as I've made unbreakable plans for socializing on the horizon. Boundaries, people. This is about boundaries.
Until then, hi Wire. Hello yukata. Hey there Joy the Baker and what's up stuffed cabbage (who I thought would be gross, but who is actually quite good, and I am so sorry to the years I wasted on that assumption). We get a bit more time together, before I have to shower and get dressed for the good of the general state of things. Let's live it up, no? Those macadamias aren't going to bake themselves.