“I’ve realised that I don’t really like hanging out with other writers as much as I think I do,” I declared blithely this morning, sitting around a café table in Brooklyn with three writers I happen to like very much.
That wasn’t precisely what I meant, of course. I do like other writers. I seek them out constantly – on Tumblr, on Twitter, in magazines and in blogs, drinking in their thoughts and entreating the ones whose thoughts I like to be my friend. That’s how I became friends with one of my all-time favourite people, actually, back when she was just an acquaintance. I read the zines she would hand around whenever our paths crossed, progressed to reading her blogs, and found that I wanted to talk to her about everything in them. In this city more than any other, almost everyone I know is a writer. And I like that. It makes me feel part of something bigger.
What I meant was that I had been to writer-type events before – writers’ festival parties, awards nights – and not found them as fun, welcoming or entertaining as they had been in my imagination. That I had on occasion met people whose thoughts in cyberspace enthralled me, but with whom I failed to connect in meat space. That just because someone was a writer didn’t mean that they were actually “my kind of person.”
Which, you know, duh.
I find it curious though, this constant declaration of things I don’t entirely believe. I do it regularly, but only really when I’m comfortable: try on a thought for size, and quickly replace with it with a contradictory thought. Or maybe keep both beliefs in my brain, bumping up against one another in the articulation but otherwise coexisting happily. Mr Musings has said that he has learned to take my words with a grain of salt – not meaningless, exactly, but rarely indicative of any belief deeper that whatever is crossing my mind at any given time.
(In writing, of course, it is different. In writing, I pick my words carefully.)
I see the same capriciousness in many of the people I am close to. One of my closest friends has a life that reminds me of those teen soap operas I like to watch: massive changes in plot and “OMGG” moments on a weekly basis, so rapid that each change is rendered meaningless in the broader picture. In the past three weeks alone, she has wanted to be an actor, a gallery director, and the mother of a child to a man she met a month ago, each passionately embraced in the moment, but ultimately discarded in favour of something else.
And so too with the others, if at a slower pace. This constant search for the right vocation, the right subculture, the right city, the right project. Trying to find the one that fits and eventually deciding that none of them do. Not well enough.
I do it too, they point out to me in return. Not so much with my vocation – in that I have been fairly steadfast, refining rather than changing directions entirely – but with my personality.
“You are always deciding you’re going to be another person,” one commented to me a couple of years ago. “You’re going to be more diligent, or dress differently, or take more holidays, or be more like Serena van der Woodsen.”
And it was funny that she said, it because I had always thought the same thing about her.