I was heading into one of my favorite tucked-away-off-a-brick-alley coffee shops the other day to put in a few hours on my novel. It was a beautiful day and two young women–maybe mid-20s, both with crew cuts and big tattoos–were sitting outside on a bench. As I approached, I heard one of them say, “Well, a lot of those people didn’t know me before I got sober.”
Well. I am a person who likes to maintain some level of decorum in public, but by God, it was all I could do not to plop myself right down on that bench: “You’re sober? Oh my god I’m sober too!!! Can we sit here and talk about sober stuff all day? Can we can we? Do you want to be friends? I know I’m nearly twice your age but I’ll be your best friend, I totally will! I’ll drive you places and let you braid my hair and everything if you’ll just let me sit here and talk to you about being sober. Oh and by the way you are my new favorite person and I love you.”
Yep, I had a near-miss with an extreme loss of dignity, people. And even when I was settled in at the coffee shop with my pour-over and my iPad and my Bluetooth keyboard all lined up and waiting for me, I couldn’t stop watching those girls through the front window. They were laughing a lot and I wondered if they were laughing about sobriety, or at their former drinking selves, or maybe something else entirely. I wanted to know so badly. And I saw with incredible clarity that I am a really, really lonely sober person. The sober community online saved my life, and I cherish being a part of it. But other than my husband, I don’t have anyone in my life on a daily basis who I can sit on a bench and casually trade sober stories with, and I can see now that it’s a hole I need to fill to be happier and less set apart from the crowd. I need to find my people, not just here in the blogosphere but in my city.
Basically, I need some new friends, and I don’t really know how to go about making them. My close friendships have always tended to form organically and over time–I’m an introvert and sort of careful about who I let inside the firewall, though once you’re in, you’re in. And even my casual friendships are more proximity based (work, fellow students at the yoga studio, etc.) than anything else. The whole idea of a MeetUp has always seemed foreign and slightly suspect to me, e.g.: I like canning, so I find out where other people who like canning are going to be, and I go there too…and then what? It turns out to be a surprise key party? It becomes a Ten Little Indians scenario where we are picked off by a maniacal Canning Killer (in the kitchen, with botulism) one by one? Or even more horrific, we all stand around smiling awkwardly and saying “Canning’s great! Yay for canning for being so darn swell” to each other?
Are you starting to get the sense that I am perhaps not a natural joiner? And yet I need to acquire some people. Is this how, 14 months sober, I finally end up in AA–out of pure loneliness? It might be. I wouldn’t have predicted it even six months ago, but it just might be.