3 hours left to kill at ORD

2022-07-10  egg

Sitting in O'Hare with the pleasant scent of fast food beef wafting around me, happy to be finally having some alone time. I feel like such an asshole for making such a big deal out of how I wanted to be in NYC this weekend but really can't wait to get home, too bad it's only for a day.. Yesterday I wondered whether I had messed up by not hooking up with this guy Nick in college who was very nice and who I’d taken acid with during the summer after second year. My summer of drugs and depression: a lot of falling asleep drinking wine on Marie's couch, getting stoned at Cat's apartment, psychedelics with kinda random people. We were all wilted and having a bad time. Nick and I had split a tab then Ubered to the MCA to see the Murakami exhibit, where I burst out laughing because a trash can had a plaque behind it and I couldn't tell if it was art or a joke, then Umami Burger, then I think we sat under the willow tree in the park in Chinatown, but I don't actually remember. I also vaguely recall he had slipped me a tab of acid when we met up in Croatia a year later where he was on a family trip and I was traveling alone--I don't think we had actually taken it then because I tripped balls in Zadar a couple days later but I have vivid memories of us peering intently at the clear green Adriatic water together a little ways off from the Split harbor. I was listening to Hosono House and staring out the window at the cornfields surrounding our Airbnb in Lake Geneva (Wisconsin), thinking about Nick, who I was texting because his best friend Katie was also here on this trip. The last time we had spoken, according to my phone, was October 2019. He's working remotely for the next year while he does research at med school, and I thought that maybe if he came to NYC I would try to sleep with him. The thought solidified into a decision for several minutes before I rejoined the group, who was seated around the campfire outside, where the idea dissolved. I think maybe I had treated him callously in the way you try to discourage someone from pursuing you sexually/romantically without doing anything explicitly mean. For all I know maybe I was reading it wrong and he never had any sort of crush on me. He definitely doesn't want anything to do with me anymore, his responses are terse and I wonder if he hates me. We had a pretty good friendship, kind of a bummer to be reminded of that and to know that's gone now. During this entire foray into Lake Geneva for the bachelorette weekend I've had this feeling that I wasn't actually wanted here. I feel like I was invited to accommodate Anna, who's going to be one of Kate's bridesmaids, except Anna got covid and couldn't make it. Instead I'm here, and I feel like I did Kate a disservice with my presence. I'm a fraud, I couldn't even get a good sub-$10 gift for her because I forgot to, I haven't been able to get it up socially to try to charm her other friends. Instead I've bonded with Eri as we sit at the kitchen counter every night, mildly dissociated from the giggly, endearing mass of friendship playing drinking games at the dining room table. "Sometimes I forget that I'm an introvert until I burst into tears after hanging out with people for 48 hours and wonder why I'm crying," Mary joked at dinner, and while I stared stonily out the window with my Airpods in lounging alone on the couch I chalked my mood up to the fact that I had been perpetually surrounded by strangers since Friday. Everything people are saying passes through me and I bring nothing to the conversation, tossing out the occasional, half-baked riff just to keep up the appearance of participating but none of my words seem to land. I offer nothing about my own life unless someone asks, and I feel shitty that I feel no curiosity about anyone else's. How do you explain your life to a complete stranger? It's hard to summon the energy to bridge the divide--Eri and I organically have shared affinities/interests, Kate and I discuss work and computer science, and Katie and I bond over Kundera, but I have no idea what to say to the girl who teaches Pilates or the perky girl going to Iowa for law school, not because they're not interesting (everyone is actually pretty cool) but because I feel like a dead fish in the face of their social energy. On the ride back to O'Hare I wonder if it's rude of me to just be staring out the window instead of talking to the bride-to-be and her friend in the front seat. I ask a couple questions then go back to my gazing. While in the backseat I was thinking about how for most of my life my closest friends have been people who have more extreme personalities than I do: Carmelle, Hester, Marie, Catherine, Katie... Everyone is more talented or more mysterious or more charming or more X than I am, has some kind of defining trait or vibe that makes them singular while I am an emotional and intellectual receptacle for the people in my life. I read Juhi's writing and want to cry because I'm moved and because it's so beautiful, I'm just a lesser amalgamation of everyone I know, a girl with a plain face and unremarkable personality. The practice of writing really bares how your mind works; I'm so self-centered, everything is about my feelings or reflections on something rather than an interesting record of how my days pass. Cora tells me that her friends think I'm cool, but I wonder what that even means, I don't think they want to actually know me or become close friends... Last night as we sat around the campfire, I was freezing--how do these people have such high body temperatures?--and wallowing over the lack of satisfying drama in my life. Part of it has been on purpose, self-imposed asceticism (no Instagram, no dating apps) so that I can focus on my life as it exists right now: pursue the things I'm interested in, spend quality time with friends, etc. But although I'm busy most of the time I also feel like I'm just treading in place; while my friends are falling in love or hooking up with their crushes I'm in this immaterial, juvenile "ha ha I love flirting with some of my guy friends" state. It was nice waking up this morning on the reclining chair (the basement where Eri and I were sleeping had flooded around 1am) to Catherine's drunk texts asking if I were awake, then the sage piece of wisdom: "Sometimes it takes being in a wildly out of comfort place to show you that you're in the right place by being in New York."